India exodus continues as another VPN pulls the plug

Best India VPN
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Another of the world's best VPN providers has decided to phase out its Indian servers due to the imminent arrival of unsafe privacy law. 

After ExpressVPN exited India and Surfshark pledged to pull its servers out, it's Hide.me's time to leave the country on the basis that India's new data retention law "makes operating a zero-log VPN impossible". 

Expected to be enforced before the end of the month, India's new CERT-In directives are set to force VPN companies to keep users' data - like IP addresses, real names and usage patterns - for up to five years. Providers will also need to be ready to hand this information over to authorities when requested.   

"It is a real shame that India has decided to implement this new law that is diametrically opposed to what a VPN is supposed to offer," wrote the provider in a blog post

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What does this mean for Hide.me users in India?

In contrast with ExpressVPN and Surfshark, Hide.me isn't planning on introducing virtual servers to protect the privacy of users. 

This means that people in India will still be able to use their HIde.me subscription, but they will have to opt for one of its available servers out of the country. With up to 2,000 servers to choose from across 75 countries - some of which in the surrounding areas, like Vietnam and Indonesia - subscribers will still have plenty to choose from.

The only difference is that Hide.me users won't be able to safely browse the net with a secure Indian IP anymore. The provider told TechRadar that they removed the server right after releasing the announcement, so that users can expect this to go offline at some point during this week.

"Hopefully, in time, this new law can be repealed and we can once again operate servers in India", said the provider. 

Graphic of Hide.me VPN logo showing on various devices

(Image credit: Hide.me)

What is India's new data retention law?

VPN providers are not the only target of India's new data retention law. Cloud storage services, virtual private servers (VPS), data centers, and cryptocurrency exchanges will all soon be affected by new CERT-In regulations. In an attempt to fight back against cybercrime, these directives have been sparking many concerns across the tech sector and privacy advocate groups. 

In a country with a backsliding media freedom and the infamy of recording more internet shutdowns than any other country, experts and libertarians are concerned that such intrusive regulations can easily be misused to foster mass surveillance and undermine citizens' civil liberties.

And it's not just privacy worries. India's new data law is believed to have a negative impact on its fast-growing IT sector too. As Future Market Insights Chief Operating Officer Sudip Saha told TechRadar: "Bans on VPNs will primarily hurt corporate interests by acting as a disincentive to investments and doing business in India."

Chiara Castro
Senior Staff Writer

Chiara is a multimedia journalist committed to covering stories to help promote the rights and denounce the abuses of the digital side of life—wherever cybersecurity, markets and politics tangle up. She mainly writes news, interviews and analysis on data privacy, online censorship, digital rights, cybercrime, and security software, with a special focus on VPNs, for TechRadar Pro, TechRadar and Tom’s Guide. Got a story, tip-off or something tech-interesting to say? Reach out to chiara.castro@futurenet.com