In Aria Thaker’s article for Quartz on the 8th of January, she reports on activity on India’s subreddit, where users had started a thread reporting that Reliance Jio was blocking proxy websites. This includes websites like Hide.me, VPNbook, Hidester etc. - all of which are websites that allow the user to mask their location to access information on the internet when the same is blocked in their area.
The principle of Net Neutrality (which now has regulatory backing in India through amendments to the licenses of telecom companies) holds that telecom companies which provide internet access and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are required to treat all data equally, not interfering with the access choices of the end user. Any provider selectively blocking VPNs and proxy service websites is extremely concerning as it contravenes this principle and violates Indian law.
Further, with the lack of a codified privacy law in India, blocking VPN sites completely leaves users devoid of any sort of privacy online, which means that any such action on a service provider's part takes away a technical protection for one of our most essential fundamental rights.
To this end, we are putting out a Google Form to the public. The intention behind this form is to collect data on which websites are being blocked and by which ISPs, after which we will look through it and see how best to remedy the situation, by complaints, approaching the TRAI, the Department of Telecom, and other bodies as needed.