The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs has reportedly proposed banning virtual private network (VPN) services in India due to cybersecurity concerns. As per the panel’s proposal, VPNs provide criminals with an anonymous presence online, and India must develop a coordinated system for permanently blocking these services.

VPNs encrypt data while online and hide the user’s internet protocol (IP) address. It lets users access sites that are blocked. Additionally, the service treats users’ online identities anonymously even when they are using public Wi-Fi networks. Most companies in India utilise VPN services to protect their networks and digital assets from hackers. During lockdowns where employees were forced to work from home using their unsecured home internet connections, VPN tools became all the more valuable.

Furthermore, the committee proposed to regulate VPN use and the dark web. As per the panel, dark Web technology and VPN services allow criminals to bypass cyber security and remain anonymous online. It said many websites advertise VPN services, which can be easily downloaded.

Moreover, the panel recommended that the Union Home Ministry and the Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology work together to identify and block such VPNs. For this purpose, the panel also recommended enlisting the assistance of Internet service providers (ISPs). The committee effectively urged the Union government to act against VPN services sheltering criminals.

In its report submitted to the Rajya Sabha on August 10, 2021, the House panel said the Union Home Ministry should take steps to strengthen tracking and surveillance by improving and developing state-of-the-art technology.