The government of India banned several Chinese apps including VLC Media Player six months ago, reported Indian Express. However, the android version of the application is still available on Google playstore and iOS app store for existing users. New users are not allowed to download the app.
There has been a sharp uptick in cyberattack cases in the country since the beginning of this year. Over 670,000 cases were filed in India till June this year, Ajay Kuma Mishra, Minister of State for Home Affairs of India cited while replying to a question in Lok Sabha.
Personal computers and smartphones that already have VLC media player installed face no issues in running the application. However, the application can still be accessed using VPN services. Moreover, the offline executable setup file can still be installed in the desktops and laptops, said an Indian Express report.
The application started in France and developed by VideoLAN, has a very modular design, which enables it to include modules/plugins for new file formats, codecs, interfaces or streaming methods. It supports audio and video compression methods and file formats including Video CD, DVD-Video and streaming protocols. It transcodes multimedia files and streams media over computer networks.
The website stopped functioning a few months back but came to user’s notice very late.
Gagandeep Sapra, a twitter user displays through his tweet, what description a user gets when he/she tries to download the app. His tweet mentions, “The website has been blocked as per order of the Ministry of Electronics and Information technology under IT Act,2000,” as reported by IE.
According to the section 69A of the IT Act 2000, the Union government has the power to ban/restrict applications and websites that threaten security, integrity and sovereignty of the nation, following due procedure.
The VLC media player was infiltrated with malware by a hacker group named ‘Cicada’ with Chinese links. Some reports mentioned the reason behind the ban of the player — its link with China. Indian user data was being sent abroad and cyberattacks were launched in India.
Symantec cyber-security researchers find that the ‘Cicada group’ installs malwares on compromised devices using VLC media player to target high profile dignitaries. Cicada victims have been found in India, the US, Canada, Israel, Hong Kong and several other countries around the world, quoted Zee News.
No official word has been received from the government. However, VideoLAN President Jean-Baptiste Kempf commenting on the ban said, “We got banned since February 13 this year and we don’t know why. We have asked the Indian government but got no answer.” as quoted by India Today.