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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

  • 20 August, 2022

  • 7 Min Read

Ban on VLC Media Player

Ban on VLC Media Player

India has outlawed access to the Video LAN Client (VLC) Media Player website.

According to VLC's data, India has outlawed its website from February 2022.

About the VLC

When personal computers started to become more common in Indian homes as a result of information technology breakthroughs in the late 1990s, VLC became increasingly popular in that country.

  • VLC is free and open source, supports all file types without the need for extra codecs, and connects quickly with various platforms and streaming services.
  • The VLC website is no longer accessible, although the VLC software is still downloadable from Google Play and Apple Stores.
  • Concerning the restriction on the VLC website, civil society organisations have regularly submitted Right to Information (RTI) requests to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY).
  • But the Ministry has consistently responded to these requests by saying that "no information is available."
  • A warning reading "The website has been prohibited as per the order of Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology under Information Technology Act, 2000" was visible when the website was previously visited.

Reasons for Ban:

  • China's Interference: According to a report from cybersecurity company Symantec published in April 2022, Cicada, a hacker organisation purportedly supported by China, has been utilising the VLC Media Player to distribute dangerous malware loader.
  • Safe Server: Although the VLC website has been blocked, you may still download the mobile app since app store servers are thought to be safer than the servers that house the desktop versions.

When can the Government Ban Online Content from the Public?

On the internet, content can be censored in one of two ways:

Executive: The Information Technology Act of 2000's Section 69A:

  • If it is necessary or appropriate to do so in the interest of India's sovereignty and integrity, defence, security, friendly relations with other states, or public order, or to prevent incitement to the commission of any cognisable offence, Section 69A gives the government the authority to direct an intermediary to "block for access by the public" any information generated, transmitted, received, stored, or hosted in any computer resource.
  • The Constitution's Article 19(2) gives Section 69A the authority to impose reasonable limitations on the basic right to free speech and expression
  • Courts in India have the authority to order intermediaries to remove content from India in order to give the victim or plaintiff an appropriate remedy.
  • For instance, courts may instruct internet service providers to ban access to websites that host pirated content and breach the copyright of the plaintiff.

What is the Procedure for Blocking Content Online?

  • The Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Restricting for Access of Information by Public) Rules, 2009 (IT Rules, 2009), which were created in accordance with Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000, contain detailed instructions for blocking content.
  • Only the Central government, not the State government, has the authority to order intermediaries to directly prohibit access to online information.
  • The blocking order is forwarded to the central government's "Designated Officer" by a "Nodal Officer" appointed by central or state authorities.
  • The nodal officer's request is examined by the designated officer as a member of a committee.
  • Members of the Cert-In, Information and Broadcasting, Home Affairs, and Law and Justice Ministries are represented on the committee.
  • A request for clarifications and responses is sent to the content's author or host.
  • The committee then recommends whether or not the nodal officer's request should be granted.
  • The designated officer may instruct the intermediary to delete content if the MeitY approves this recommendation.

What are Government’s Initiatives for Cyber Security?

  • Cyber Surakshit Bharat Initiative
  • Cyber Swachhta Kendra
  • Online cybercrime reporting portal
  • Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C)
  • National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC)
  • Information Technology Act, 2000

Way forward

Transparency:

  • According to Rule 16 of the IT Rules, 2009, full secrecy must be kept with regard to any requests or actions taken in accordance with those rules.
  • Since it is unclear why VLC has been disabled, this should be reviewed and a measure of transparency introduced.

Possibility of Reply:

  • The rules of natural justice are broken when the creator or host isn't given a chance to provide clarifications or responses.
  • The inventor or host should be given enough time to present his response before the appropriate authority.

Effectiveness of the review committee:

  • The Examine Committee, which is mandated to meet every two months to review orders, has highlighted that none of the committee's conclusions has been contested.

Also, Read - Lord Curzon and his policies

Source: The Hindu


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