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Evolving digital constraints i...

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Evolving digital constraints in India: Online censorship on the rise

India's Censorship
The Silicon Review
07 December, 2023

The landscape of online freedom is a dynamic arena, with various nations grappling with the balance between surveillance and individual liberties. While countries like China and Iran often dominate discussions about internet censorship, the scenario is swiftly evolving in other regions, notably in India. The once-open digital corridors in India now bear the weight of extensive monitoring and ban the tools for safeguarding individual data.

India proudly boasts one of the world's largest online populations, but this expansion has come with stringent restrictions impacting both individuals and growing businesses. As digital connectivity surged, so did the struggle to maintain online privacy. Consequently, cybersecurity tools, especially those enabling anonymous browsing and data protection, have seen a sharp rise in popularity.

In this article, we'll take a closer look at how internet censorship plays out in India and discuss how VPNs make a difference in preserving online privacy for millions.

India’s controlling landscape.

Initially seen as a gateway to global opportunities, the Indian internet space gradually fell under strict censorship throughout the years. The Information Technology Act of 2000 grants the government extensive powers to control internet usage, monitor online activities without consent and regulate virtual enterprises. Initiatives like the Aadhaar System (unique digital identifier) symbolize India's heavy shift toward mass surveillance.

Instances of internet shutdowns during civil unrest or emergencies further highlight the strict control exerted over the online realm. Alarming statistics label India as the world's primary culprit in internet shutdowns in 2022. Despite criticism from both its citizens and other countries, India shows no interest in loosening its grip on extreme censorship practices.

On top of that, Indians have to endure constant online surveillance. Their actions are monitored pretty much everywhere, web content is harshly restricted, and free speech is now just a memory of the past. Consequently, the use of VPNs for India and other cybersecurity tools has increased dramatically in direct opposition to the current law.

The rising opposition

Traditionally, cybersecurity tools aimed to protect against typical cyber threats like hacking and malware. However, in India, their usage goes beyond conventional security measures. While businesses focus on safeguarding against cyber dangers, everyday Indians turn to these tools to liberate their online activities from constant surveillance and restrictions.

Among the available tools, VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) stand out as one of the most popular choices since this software acts as a secure tunnel for all online traffic. Once connected to a VPN server, all-around encryption encodes all your traffic, rendering it unreadable even to the authorities or Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Modern VPNs rely on cutting-edge AES-256 encryption, a virtually unbreakable gold standard trusted by banks and high-value businesses.

For India’s locals, the primary draw of VPN services lies in data protection. According to Forbes, almost half of the 692.0 million internet users connect to VPN to access the internet on a daily basis. Despite the heavy Indian government crackdown on VPNs with local servers in mid-2022, residents can still use servers outside India with relative ease.

How VPNs fight against online censorship

Virtual Private Network technology operates on a simple principle: connecting to a server in a different location. This connection can give you a foreign IP address, masking all your internet traffic from the World Wide Web. However, the scope of benefits offered by this seemingly simple tool does extend beyond what you may know.

Dodging surveillance

Employing advanced AES-256 encryption standards, VPNs allow anonymous access and online navigation within India, effectively shielding every user from intrusive government surveillance. With the authorities actively profiling citizens, VPNs play a pivotal role in evading such pervasive methods of spying by completely masking IP addresses. Adding an additional layer of encryption through VPN obfuscation further fortifies this protective shield to nearly untraceable levels.

Avoiding censorship

Don’t be mistaken: India blocks enormous amounts of digital foreign resources. These restrictions not only impede leisure activities but also hinder access to educational or business purposes. However, VPNs, armed with solid global coverage, can serve as an easy gateway to simply walk around blocked access points. Whether it's for streaming, research endeavors, or comprehensive market analysis, a VPN offers a simple yet effective route around these constraints.

Opening doors to global markets

For Indian businesses, VPNs serve as a pivotal tool to conduct thorough market research, advertise products, and maintain their online presence. Geo-blocking often poses significant hindrances to expansion, but VPNs simply punch through the walls. By leveraging such versatile services, businesses gain broader online opportunities while ensuring the solid security of their data from prying eyes or bad actors.

Allowing free speech

In India, the reality of restrictive laws such as the Anti-Blasphemy, Criminal Defamation, and Sedition Laws significantly curtails freedom of expression. With no immediate signs of change in sight, people increasingly turn to online platforms to voice their opinions and perspectives globally. However, some global social platforms are simply out of reach, while the likes of Twitter can and do get blocked in a matter of minutes.

VPNs play an instrumental role in enabling this fundamental freedom by offering unlimited access and privacy protection. While India's situation isn't as extreme as some other countries, namely Iran or China, the widespread use of VPNs ensures that individuals can confidently express themselves online without the looming fear of facing immediate repercussions on a governmental level.

Conclusion

India's digital landscape mirrors a shift toward a realm reminiscent of cyberpunk dystopias seen elsewhere. Mass surveillance and internet censorship have eroded the privacy and freedom of expression of Indian citizens and businesses.

In this scenario, cybersecurity tools, especially VPNs, have emerged as formidable allies, empowering millions to reclaim their right to privacy. As government control tightens, these tools offer a glimmer of hope for those striving to regain their online autonomy against encroaching restrictions.