In News: The Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) ordered the blocking of the website of VLC Media Player after it found that the site was communicating with servers of a previously banned app by the ministry which was transferring sensitive personal data of Indians to a “hostile country”.
- The request to block was sent by the Home Ministry.
- The action was taken under Section 69(A) of the Information Technology Act.
- Following which, VideoLan sent a legal notice to MeitY and DoT, to know the reasons and demanding a copy of the blocking order.
- VideoLAN is the non-profit based out of France that operates VLC Media Player.
- Indian banned VideoLan’s URL i.e. videolan.org, from where the VLC Media Player software could be downloaded.
- However, the VLC Media Player software is available for download on Google and Apple’s app stores.
- The ministry using “open-source threat intelligence reports” concludes that VLC Media Player was used by a China-backed hacking group called ‘Cicada’ for carrying out cyber-attacks.
- VideoLan’s website was “communicating” with an app called Onmyoji Arena and the data collected by the site was transferred through this app to a “hostile country”.
- Onmyoji Arena, was one of the 54 apps that MeitY had ordered to block for alleged Chinese-links and for posing a national security risk to India.
- These threat intelligence reports also purportedly revealed a malicious campaign from hackers associated with the Chinese government who were using VLC Media Player to “launch a custom malware loader”.
- In cybersecurity parlance, a loader is essentially a malicious code used for communication between the attacker and the compromised system.
Information Technology Act 2000 (IT Act):
- It is the primary law in India dealing with cybercrime and electronic commerce.
- Secondary legislation includes the Intermediary Guidelines Rules 2011 and the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.
- It deals with electronic commerce, Digital Signatures, prevention of cybercrimes and e-governance.
- It applies to the whole of India
- It also has a Cyber Appellate Tribunal to resolve disputes.
- Section 69(A): Power to issue directions for blocking for public access of any information through any computer resource; in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence. Examples include Chinese-app TikTok ban
- Section 67(A): Punishment for publishing or transmitting of material containing sexually explicit act, etc., in electronic form
- Section 66 E: Punishment for violation of privacy
- Section 66F: Punishment for cyber terrorism
- Section 66C: Punishment for identity theft
- Criticisms: restriction of free speech and fundamental rights
Source: Indian Express