VLC Media Player Blocked in India Since February for Unknown Reasons, VideoLAN Says

VLC Media Player states that its website was blocked in India on February 13.

VLC Media Player Blocked in India Since February for Unknown Reasons, VideoLAN Says

Photo Credit: Google Play

MeitY has responded on the VLC Media Player ban on Twitter

Highlights
  • VLC Media Player has been blocked for several users in India
  • The government is yet to confirm if the site has been blocked
  • VideoLAN confirmed its site has been blocked in India via Twitter

VideoLAN, the non-profit organisation behind VLC Media Player, has confirmed the blocking of the multimedia player's website via several tweets on its official Twitter handle. The Paris-based group confirmed that its official site has been blocked in India since February 13. The official reason behind the block is yet to be revealed. An RTI request, filed by digital liberties organisation Internet Freedom Foundation shows that the government is unaware of the reason for blocking the VLC website in the country. The multimedia player is available for download via the Google Play store and Apple's App Store.

Through a forum post on Hacker News, VideoLan president and lead developer Jean-Baptiste Kempf confirmed that the website for the open-source VLC media player has been blocked in India since February 13 this year. He said that some ISPs (Internet service providers) have blocked the site. “We've asked the Indian government and we got no answer. We probably did not ask the right place though. I wish I knew how to ask properly,” Kemp wrote.

“The weirdest is that some ISPs are blocking it and some are not. So why is that the case? Are some ISP not listening to the government?”, he added.

A TechCrunch report quoting Jean-Baptiste Kempf says that the site saw a drop of 80 percent in traffic from the South Asian market on February 13. India represents 10 percent of all VLC users worldwide, he said adding that the website traffic has dropped 20 percent as a result of the India ban.

Following the blocking of the official website, VideoLAN reached out to Indian users for help via Twitter. As per an RTI (Right to Information) request filed by the Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF), the reason for the block remains unknown.

According to the digital liberties organisation, an RTI was filed in June with the Department of Telecom (DoT) about the website being banned. The DoT transferred the request to the Ministry of Electronics and Information and Technology (MeitY). IFF revealed that MeitY's response on July 14 was that “No information is available [with MeitY]”.

According to IFF, the group “sought information on the grounds on which videolan[dot]org has been blocked for access in India and whether any hearing opportunity was provided to the website owners before the website was blocked for access in India.” However, the IFF said they have got a single-line response that MeitY has no such information.

The VideoLAN website is said to be accessible via proxy websites. The existing users can still access VLC Media Player on Google Play and App Store. But new users are not allowed to download the app via the official website, which could pose a security risk for users, who attempt to download the popular video player via third-party sources.


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Nithya P Nair
Nithya P Nair is a journalist with more than five years of experience in digital journalism. She specialises in business and technology beats. A foodie at heart, Nithya loves exploring new places (read cuisines) and sneaking in Malayalam movie dialogues to spice up conversations. More
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