The Swiss company behind Proton VPN has decided to shut down all of its servers in India.
This is due to concerns about the new CERT-In provisions to be implemented.
Proton is only the last of the best VPN providers out of the country to protect their customers’ privacy. In June, we saw ExpressVPN’s exit from India, Surfshark’s pledge to remove its physical servers, Hide.me’s announcement to pull the plug, and NordVPN one last time joining the outbound group citing freedom-of-speech concerns.
Under the new Indian law, VPN companies will be required to store users’ real names, assigned IP addresses, usage patterns, and other identifying information for up to five years. They will also be required to provide this information to the authorities upon request.
Originally scheduled to enter into force on June 28, the new rules are slated to enter into force on September 25.
Today, we are removing our VPN servers in India to protect the privacy of our community due to India’s new surveillance law. However, we introduced smart routing servers to continue to provide an Indian IP address. Read @andyyen’s interview with @WSJ: https://t.co/5iIy1Di3mVSeptember 22, 2022
Smart Routing Servers for Indian IP Address
Talking about your decision in a blog post (opens in a new tab)the supplier said, “This is against everything we stand for.
“We have no intention of abiding by this invasive mass surveillance law, leaving us no choice but to remove our VPN servers from Indian jurisdiction.”
However, this does not mean that people in India would not be able to enjoy the protection of their software. On the contrary.
“While we oppose the authoritarianism of the Indian government, we remain committed to serving the people of India,” Proton VPN spokesman Matt Fossen told TechRadar Pro.
Users can still choose from a variety of secure international servers available in 64 countries. And those who need a secure connection via India IP address can enjoy the security of theirs Intelligent Routing Network.
As with other vendors who have switched to virtual privacy protection for their users, Proton Smart Routing servers are physically located in Singapore. However, they are the same in terms of functionality, allowing users to obtain an Indian IP address.
“If you live in India or have connected to our Indian VPN servers from elsewhere, you can switch to these Smart Routing servers and use Proton VPN as before, ”the provider assures.
Therefore, when browsing the web safely locally, users in India will still have their data secured by a truly no-logs VPN service.
Why is India’s new data retention law controversial?
While India’s new data retention law aims to put a stop to cybercrime, its provisions raise a lot of concern in the tech sector and privacy advocacy groups.
“It will have a chilling effect. It’s really sad that the greatest democracy in the world is going this way, ”said Andy Yen, CEO of Proton AG. Wall Street Journal (opens in a new tab)adding that the move would also put activists and whistle-blowers at risk.
Concerns that such intrusive laws could be easily misused to support mass surveillance and undermine citizens’ civil liberties are not unfounded, however. India is indeed infamous for its own receding media freedom (opens in a new tab) and the disgrace of the recording more internet shutdowns than in any other country (opens in a new tab) in the world.
Moreover, VPN providers are just some of the companies that fall under the new CERT-In directives. Other services include data centers, cloud storage services, virtual private servers (VPS), and cryptocurrency exchanges.
The amount of private information stored will then be huge, in thousands of different companies. This raises many doubts as to the feasibility of the new regulations.
At this point, NordVPN’s head of public relations, Laura Tyrylyte, told TechRadar: “It’s hard to imagine that all SMEs, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, will have the resources to keep such data safe.”
And it’s not just privacy concerns. The new data law in India is also thought to have a negative impact on the rapidly growing IT sector, possibly translating into higher fees for Indian VPN users overall.