VideoLan, the developer of popular VLC media player, said Indian telecom operators had been blocking its website since February this year, which could impact some users in one of the company’s biggest open-source markets. .
“Most major ISPs [internet service providers] ban the site, with various techniques,” VideoLan president and lead developer Jean-Baptiste Kempf said of the blocking in India in an email to TechCrunch.
Telecom operators began blocking the VideoLan website on Feb. 13 this year, when the site saw an 80% drop in traffic from the South Asian market, he said.
India accounts for 10% of all VLC users globally, he said. Website traffic saw an overall drop of 20% as a result of the lockdown in India.
Indian telecom operators have not explained why they blocked the VideoLan website, but some believe it could be due to a misinterpretation of a security warning from earlier this year.
Security firm Symantec reported in April this year that hacker group Cicada, which has ties to the Chinese government, was exploiting VLC Media Player along with several other popular apps to remotely access victim’s computers.
Kempf said he or his company had not been contacted by any Indian government agency and the blockage was likely the result of a misunderstanding over the issue of Chinese security.
VLC, downloaded over 3.5 billion times worldwide, is a local media player that doesn’t require internet access or a connection to any particular online service for the vast majority of its functionality. A block on its website does not impact VLC’s existing install base. Users may also continue to receive updates from mirror websites and app stores.
But by blocking the website, India is pushing its citizens to “shady websites that are running a pirated version of VLC. So they are putting their own citizens at risk with this ban,” Kempf added.
New Delhi-based privacy group Internet Freedom Foundation said in a tweet that VideoLan’s blocking “is without any reason publicly disclosed.