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VLC says Indian ISPs blocking the site pose a threat to users – londonbusinessblog.com

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VideoLan, the developer of popular media player VLC, says Indian telecom operators have been blocking their website since February this year in a move that could potentially affect some users in one of the open source company’s largest markets.

“Most major ISPs [internet service providers] ban the site using various techniques,” VideoLan president and lead developer Jean-Baptiste Kempf said of the block in India in an email to londonbusinessblog.com.

The 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 represents 10% of all VLC users worldwide, he said. The traffic on the website has decreased by 20% in total due to the blocking in India.

Indian telecom operators have not explained why they blocked the VideoLan website, but some speculate that 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, misused VLC Media Player and several other popular applications to gain remote access to the victim’s computers.

Kempf said he or his company has not been approached by any Indian government agency and the blockage is likely the result of a misunderstanding of China’s security problem.

Downloaded more than 3.5 billion times worldwide, VLC is a local media player that does not require internet access or connection to any particular online service for the vast majority of its functions. A block on its website will not affect VLC’s existing installation base. Users can also continue to receive updates from mirror websites and app stores.

But by blocking the website, India is pushing its citizens to “dark websites with a hacked version of VLC. So they are putting their own citizens at risk with this ban,” Kempf added.

The New Delhi-based privacy advocacy group Internet Freedom Foundation said in a tweet that the blocking of VideoLan is “without any publicly disclosed reason.

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