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VLC web site ban: Data transfers to servers in ‘hostile country’

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VLC site ban: Data transfers to servers in ‘hostile country’

The Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) ordered the blocking of the web site of VLC Media Player after it discovered that the positioning was speaking with servers of a beforehand banned app by the ministry which was transferring delicate private knowledge of Indians to a “hostile country,” The Indian Express has learnt.

The request to dam the web site of VideoLAN, the non-profit that operates VLC Media Player, was despatched by the Home Ministry.

VideoLan’s URL,, from the place the VLC Media Player software program could possibly be downloaded, was blocked within the nation beneath Section 69(A) of the Information Technology Act someday in February. However, the VLC Media Player software program is obtainable for obtain on Google and Apple’s app shops.

Earlier this month, VideoLan had despatched a authorized discover to MeitY and the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), in search of to know the explanations for which the positioning had been blocked in India, and demanding a replica of the blocking order issued for blocking its URL.

MeitY is learnt to have ready an inside observe in response to the authorized discover – which VideoLan had issued with help from the Delhi-based digital rights group Internet Freedom Foundation – and is within the technique of sharing it with VideoLan.

According to a supply aware of the contents of the ministry’s observe, VideoLan’s web site was “communicating” with an app known as Onmyoji Arena and the information collected by the positioning was transferred by means of this app to a “hostile country”. A separate technical analysis committee has additionally confirmed this reality, the observe is known to have talked about.

The app in query right here, Onmyoji Arena, was one of many 54 apps that MeitY had ordered to dam in February for alleged Chinese-links and for posing a nationwide safety threat to India.

The ministry can be stated to have relied on numerous “open source threat intelligence reports” to conclude that VLC Media Player was utilized by a China-backed hacking group known as ‘Cicada’ for finishing up cyber assaults. These menace intelligence reviews additionally purportedly revealed a malicious marketing campaign from hackers related to the Chinese authorities who had been utilizing VLC Media Player to “launch a custom malware loader”. In cybersecurity parlance, a loader is actually a malicious code used for communication between the attacker and the compromised system.

However, it’s price noting that the assorted menace intelligence reviews that MeitY is learnt to have talked about in its observe are from between April and August this 12 months, whereas the VideoLan web site was banned earlier than that point interval, in February. As such, VideoLan just isn’t a China-based entity, however is headquartered in France.

Queries despatched to MeitY and VideoLan remained unanswered till publication.

In its authorized discover, issued on October 4, Jean-Baptiste Kempf, the president and lead VLC developer of VideoLan had expressed shock on the blocking of the web site regardless of the “Government of India itself endorsing the use of VLC as a part of its Digital India initiative”.

“By blocking the URL, your offices are in violation of international obligations to protect free speech in India. This incident also affects the fundamental rights of all Indian users of VLC who have the right to receive the information freely available on the URL,” VideoLan’s authorized discover had stated.