VLC says India's site blocker endangers its own citizens - TechCrunch

VideoLan, the developer of popular media player VLCsays Indian telecom operators have been blocking its website since February this year, in a move that potentially affects some users in one of the open source firm’s biggest markets.

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

Telecom operators began blocking the VideoLan website on February 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 worldwide, he said. The website traffic saw an overall drop of 20% as a result of the India block.

Indian telecom operators have not explained why they blocked the VideoLan website, but some have speculated that it may have been due to a misinterpretation of a security warning from earlier this year.

Security firm Symantec reported in April this year that the Cicada hacking group, which has ties to the Chinese government, exploited VLC Media Player as well as several other popular applications to gain remote access to victim computers.

Kempf said no Indian government agency had contacted him or his firm, and the block was likely the result of a misunderstanding of China’s security issue.

Downloaded over 3.5 billion times worldwide, VLC is a local media player that does not require internet access or a connection to any particular online service for most of its functions. Blocking its website does not affect VLC’s existing install 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 “shady websites that use the hacked version of VLC. So they are endangering their own citizens with this ban,” Kempf added.

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