- An Indian ISP called Reliance Jio is arbitrarily blocking access to VPN service domains and various proxies.
- This is an act of blatant net neutrality violation, but dragging the company to court will be tricky.
- No one knows if this is an isolated ISP move or a precursor of a nation-wide blocking.
Reliance Jio is one of India’s largest mobile carriers and Internet Service Providers (ISPs), serving about 250 million people with competitively priced data plans that had their customers satisfied so far. When they started blocking access to many VPN service provider domains as well as several proxies though, people noticed and began their rants on Reddit, Twitter, and other channels.
— mathew (@mathew62482066) December 17, 2018
In what seems to be a direct violation of the net neutrality regulations, Jio is blocking access to various domains that they deemed as non-suitable, as no government order was officially given to them. That said, they are ostensibly acting on their own, restricting their subscribers access to specific sites without providing any explanations whatsoever. The same websites are accessible through other India-based ISPs, so Reliance Jio has gone renegade or has simply found itself one step ahead of everyone else. Previously, Jio was the first (by far) to block internet access to over 800 porn sites following a relevant government order, as if they already knew about it.
The Indian law doesn’t treat proxy sites and VPN services as illegal, however, there is no privacy protection framework in place either. This allows for alarming digital surveillance which seems to have been intensified in the country lately. VPNs are obviously interrupting this process, so banning them makes sense if the government agencies want to have unhindered access to the country’s internet user base. The fact of the violation of the network neutrality regulation that is active in India though remains, so Jio is likely to face charges if their customers join forces to form a lawsuit against them. For now, Jio has not issued any official response on the matter.