One of the top VPN providers in the world has decided to end its Indian server service.
Surfshark followed the lead of ExpressVPN in exiting India last Wednesday. They stated that the new CERT-In regulations in the country ‘go against their core ethos’.
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The new data retention law in India will take effect on June 27th. It will require VPN companies, including IP addresses and real names, to retain users’ data for up to five year. They will be required to provide this information to authorities upon request.
Gytis Malinauskas, Surfshark Head for Legal, stated that the company operates under strict no-log policy and is not prepared to compromise its technical base or its values. What does this mean for Surfshark India users?
Surfshark will soon introduce virtual Indian servers in India to replace its existing ones. The company claims that these virtual Indian servers will be ‘functionally identical’ to the physical ones.
Surfshark subscribers can still connect to physical servers in the country until then.
After the virtual servers become available, users of the provider will be able to find others browsing its regular server lists. Users will be able to redirect their connection via Singapore, London or both while still maintaining an Indian IP address. Only the difference is that the physical server will not be in India so users’ data won’t be under Indian control.
Surfshark will continue monitoring the government’s attempts at internet freedom and encouraging discussions intended to persuade government to listen to the arguments of tech industry,” the provider stated in an officially released statement (opens in new tab).
What is India’s latest data retention law?
India’s latest data retention law does not only affect VPNs, but also cloud storage, virtual private server ( VPS), and data centers. It is a move to combat cybercrime.
Commentators worry that India, which is ranked 150th of 180 countries in the 2022 Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index, has regressive media freedom and can misuse these directives to control the public.
Experts also believe this could have a negative effect on India’s fast-growing IT sector. Future Market Insights Chief Operating Office Sudip Saha stated to TechRadar that bans on VPNs will only hurt corporate interests, as they act as a disincentive for investments and doing business with India.