Posted on May 1, 2017 by Caleb Chen

Indians are using VPN to bypass an ongoing social media block against Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, and more


indian social media ban

Over 12 million Indian Internet users in the Jammu and Kashmir region have been blocked from using social networking and social media sites such as Reddit, Facebook and Twitter. Internet service providers (ISPs) in the region are following an order from the local government that blocks 22 social networking and social media sites. The Jammu and Kashmir region has seen unrest and Internet shutdowns for years. The most recent internet blocks started in mid April. As a result, on April 26th, Principle Home Secretary R K Goyal announced:

“Any message or class of messages to or from any persons or class of persons relating to any subject or any pictorial content through the following social networking sites shall not be transmitted in the Kashmir valley, with immediate effect, for a period of one month or till further orders, whichever is earlier.”

People in Jammu and Kashmir are tweeting despite the social media ban

However, messages continue to be posted to social networks from the Jammu and Kashmir region of India. Netizens in the region are used to entire Internet blocks or blocks of certain websites, though, and have turned to trusty virtual private networks (VPN) to bypass the social media ban. Affected social media sites, besides Reddit, include:

Facebook
Twitter
WhatsApp
QQ
WeChat
QZone
Tumblr
Google+
Baidu
Viber
Line
Snapchat
Pinterest
Telegram
Snapfish
YouTube
Vine
Xanga
Buzznet
Flickr

Internet users in Jammu and Kashmir turn to VPN to bypass Indian social media blocks

Looking around social media such as Facebook, it’s clear that the social media ban isn’t working as intended, though. Besides actual internet users accessing via VPN, it seems that government officials are allowed to stay on Facebook – either through VPN use themselves or through lack of bans at their offices. As recently as Sunday, days after the social media ban was announced, the Divisional Commissioner of Kashmir was updating his Facebook page. Netizens in Greater Kashmir asked:

“How there can be two set of rules, which allow government officials to violate the order with impunity while curb freedom of speech of a commoner by imposing gag on them.”

Internet access is a human right, according to the UN. With the consistent anti-Internet actions over the last several years, it’s no surprise that India was actually one of the countries that voted against the UN Human Rights Watch resolution that declared Internet access as a human right.

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About Caleb Chen

Caleb Chen is a digital currency and privacy advocate who believes we must #KeepOurNetFree, preferably through decentralization. Caleb holds a Master’s in Digital Currency from the University of Nicosia as well as a Bachelor’s from the University of Virginia. He feels that the world is moving towards a better tomorrow, bit by bit by Bitcoin.


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