VLC media player by VideoLAN falls prey to Section 69A of the Information Technology (IT) Act of 2000 on suspicions of sharing Indian user data with China. Section 69A of the IT Act allows the government to block access to public information available on websites and mobile apps if there is a threat to the nation’s security.
VideoLAN clarified in a tweet that its apolitical structure does not “provide, convey, censor or distribute any content.” They also clarified that they do not have access to or store any user data.
In Shreya Singhal v/s Union of India Writ Petition No. 167 of 2012, the Court upheld the constitutional validity of Section 69A. However, it mandated that the government issue directions only after seeking the committee’s approval on hearing the aggrieved party. The Court also held that even in a case of emergency, the reasons to block the website must be maintained in writing.
SFLC.in, a digital rights NGO had filed a Right to Information (RTI) seeking information on the ban with the Ministry of Electronics and IT. The RTI plea revealed that the government body also had no information on the ban. Information blocked under Section 69A is strictly confidential, and it is not necessary by law for the government to respond to the RTI with valid information on the ban. Nevertheless, the fear of arbitrary usage runs rampant among businesses.