People in India are struggling to download the iconic VLC Media Player, with no official reason released so far.
VideoLAN, the Paris-based company behind the open-source video player, confirmed that its official site has been blocked in India since February 13.
The news was discovered when the site saw a drop in traffic of 80% across the South Asia market, the company's president and lead developer Jean-Baptiste Kempf told TechCrunch.
VLC Player ban
"The weirdest [thing] is that some ISP are blocking it and some are not. So why is that the case? Are some ISP not listening to the government?" wrote Kempf on the Hacker News forum.
Users who have already downloaded the media player can keep using it without any issues as it doesn't need to be connected to any of their servers to function. And, while VLC is still available to download on Apple Store, Google Play and mirrored sites, people might need an India VPN to be able to do so on its official site.
VideoLAN is now asking for assistance on social media, hoping to be able to have some answers to the matter.
If you are in India, please help us. https://t.co/rOpIjlx0q9August 12, 2022
Why has VLC Media Player been banned?
As mentioned above, the Indian government has so far failed to give an official reason for its decision.
Digital rights advocacy group Internet Freedom Foundation confirmed in a tweet that the India Ministry of Electronics and IT responded to its inquiry on July 14 saying that "No information is available."
At the same time, some reports are speculating that the ban may be due to the hacker group Cicada - allegedly backed by the Chinese government - using a fake version of VLC Media Player, among others applications, to launch malware attacks.
"VideoLAN are quite apolitical (we only fight against DRM and for open source) and VLC is a pure tool that can read anything," said Kempf.
He also added that if that's the real motivation behind the ban, it would do more harm than good as it's pushing users to download their service via less secure sites instead.
Experts…Blocking the main website will just push users to weirder websites, and therefore towards shady versions of VLC.Those experts are incompetent… https://t.co/QNVQwh8HF2August 16, 2022
VideoLAN said that 10% of all VLC users worldwide are based in India.
More and more internet users are now calling the India Ministry of Electronics and IT on social media to lift the ban.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org