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Global VPN providers on verge of exiting India

New rules, effective from June 27, to store all VPN providers to store users’ data may affect cyber security practice, prompt many VPN providers to leave Indian market; However, Rajeev Chandrashekhar, MoS for Electronics and IT, says that VPNs, which would not adhere to the rules, are free to exit the country

Global VPN providers on verge of exiting India

Bengaluru: Implementation of new VPN (virtual private network) rules is likely to prompt many global VPN providers to exit India in coming days with some already pulling the plug over privacy concerns.

Sources in the know said that this may affect the burgeoning cybersecurity practice of Indian IT industry, especially of startups, as the new rules come into effect from June 27, 2022.

"Many international VPN providers are likely to exit India given the new rules that mandate all VPN providers to store users' data. We have already seen exit of some players and other players may follow suit," said an industry source who wished not to be identified.

Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) in a notification on April 28 has asked VPN service providers along with data centres and cloud service providers to store information such as names, e-mail IDs, contact numbers, and IP addresses among other things, of their customers for a period of five years. These service providers have been given two months to comply with the new guidelines.

While the government is of the opinion that such directive will help the country fight cybercrime, many industry players are of the opinion that VPN services stand for privacy and the move to store data will be in breach of the privacy assurance provided by such services providers.

Meanwhile, Indian government has allayed those concerns with Minister of State (MoS) for Electronics and IT Rajeev Chandrashekhar earlier saying that VPNs which would not adhere to the rules are free to exit the country.

Post the notifications, companies like Netherlands-headquartered Surfshark and British Virgin Islands-registered ExpressVPN have decided to shut shop in India.

VPN enables internet users with access to resources that can't be accessed on a public network. This is widely used for remote work. Due to such services, access is only given to the intended users and restricted to others, that help in maintaining privacy of the users and information.

During the Covid pandemic, most of the global companies have stayed connected with minimal disruption to workflow through leveraging such VPN services. It is not immediately clear how these rules are going to impact Indian IT services firms which use these services to enable remote working for their vast workforce across the world.

Some experts said VPNs are being increasingly used owing to cybersecurity threats. Many cybersecurity startups provide those services to their clients by customising their requirements.

Debasis Mohapatra
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