As the internet becomes more accessible across the globe, more and more unwary individuals become increasingly susceptible to computer viruses, malware, spyware, and the like. Sometimes, some internet users may also use the internet for cybercrimes such as cyberbullying, identity theft, data hacking, defamation, fraud, piracy, and illegal pornography. To control these cybercrimes, the government of a country or a state has the power to control the internet censorship of its people.
In India, the government has the authority to monitor and control internet censorship in the country while still permitting its citizens to access the internet. This is why internet freedom in India is considered to be partly-free.
According to the OpenNet Initiative report, the Indian government enforces a “selective” internet filtering, particularly in the political, conflict/security, social, and Internet tools areas. However, many criticize this “selective” filtering as ineffective because some of these restricted content can find its way quickly to other websites.
According to Reporters Without Borders, India is among the countries who have stepped up their internet surveillance while publicly denying accusations of censorship. They also reported that these censorship policies undermine the freedom of expression of a democratic country such as India.
According to the 2018 Freedom House report, the internet penetration in India continues to increase, resulting in widespread restrictions and shutdowns; blocking, filtering, covering, and manipulation of content; and the improvement of internet surveillance and security.
With these conflicting descriptions from being “ineffective” to being “restrictive”, it is hard to pinpoint what approach India is taking with regards to its internet security. To understand it better, let’s delve deeper on the country of India.
India is the world’s second-most populated nation with more than 1.36 billion residents as of May 2019. This accounts to 17.74% or roughly 1 out of 6 people in the world living in India. About 25% of the people in India (266 million) live in highly-populated urban cities.
Despite its large population, its population density sits at 416 people per square kilometer, making it the 31st country with the highest population density. This is because of India’s massive land area of 1.24 million square miles (3.29 million km²). By comparison, it is about a third the size of the entire USA, and bigger than USA’s 4 biggest states: Alaska, Texas, California, and Montana; combined.
The number of internet users in India varies significantly between urban and rural regions. In a 2011 report, 52 million of the people living in urban areas can regularly access the internet, while only 4.18 million of the people in rural areas do. Now, there are over 560 million internet users all across India thanks to the easier accessibility to the Internet.
With the rise of internet users, the internet speed in India has also seen incredible improvements. As of April 2019, India ranks 68th out of 138 countries by average fixed broadband speed and 121st out of 138 countries by mobile internet speed.
Internet in India would not be possible without the 302 internet service providers (ISPs) in the country. As of June 2018, the top 10 ISPs, ranked according to the number of subscribers, are the following:
- Jio (with 215 million subscribers)
- Airtel (with 126 million subscribers)
- Vodafone (with 77 million subscribers)
- Idea Cellular (with 51 million subscribers)
- BSNL (with 30 million subscribers)
- Tata Teleservices (with 4.8 million subscribers)
- ACT Fibernet (with 1.3 million subscribers)
- MTNL (with 1.7 million subscribers)
- Hathway (with 765 thousand subscribers)
- You broadband (with 680 thousand subscribers)
These figures represent over 508 million subscribers.
Among the most common websites that Indians frequent on the internet are social media sites, with as much as 326 million social network users in 2018 alone. The most common social networking sites visited are Facebook (30%), YouTube (30%), WhatsApp (28%), Facebook Messenger (20%), Instagram (19%), Google Plus (19%), and Twitter (18%).
Alongside social media, e-commerce and online transactions are also getting increasingly common in India. As of 2018, e-commerce has seen its peak and is projected to decline in the following years.
Because more and more novice internet users gain access to the internet, some opportunistic criminals may take advantage of their lack of internet safety awareness and exploit these internet users via social media and online transactions.
Why You Need a VPN in India
Using the internet without a VPN is like walking through a crowd who can read your thoughts, know your memories, and even correctly predict what you’re going to do. With this analogy, a VPN can be compared with a tinfoil hat that can prevent malicious eyes from reading your mind. Unlike tinfoil hats, however, VPN actually works.
Virtual Private Network (VPN) extends the features of a private network through the public domain. With a VPN, you can send and receive information across a public network while maintaining your privacy.
VPNs offer a lot of internet safety features for all kinds of internet users, from casual internet users to gamers, to professional and private groups and companies. Here are seven things to look for when choosing a VPN:
You will need to strengthen your internet security to protect your passwords, personal information, and other pertinent data. VPNs make your internet usage safe and secure using the tunneling protocols and encryption techniques. VPNs utilize this tunneling protocol to encrypt your passwords and personal information.
The way this tunneling protocol works is actually quite easy to understand. Before entering the public network, or the “tunnel,” the information is encrypted into an unintelligible “information” so that anyone looking at the public network will not be able to read the information you sent. It will then be decrypted on the other end, so only you and your intended people can read the information.
Have you ever been to a website randomly, say a real estate website in India, and eventually view countless ads of similar sites showing on your screen? If you are annoyed by this situation, you should consider getting a VPN.
In these situations, either the website or the search engine monitors your online behaviors: they gather information on what you search, how often do you visit a website, and how long you stay at the site. To some extent, this can be good for you if you like viewing these ads, but what they are actually invading your privacy without you knowing.
Contrary to popular belief, a VPN will not make you entirely anonymous in this scenario. When you connect through a VPN, you are using the IP address of the VPN server. This way, these opportunist websites, and hackers cannot spy on you nor see what you are doing.
3. Internet Connection Speed
VPN providers can make your internet connection fast and enjoyable. Normally, the online traffic requires you to transmit information from server to server until it reaches its destination. But with a VPN you can take shortcut “tunnels” so you can go directly to your end server.
There are a lot of people who can benefit from a traffic-free internet connection. Specifically, some online role-playing games need fast internet connections to prevent lag. Gamers in India will definitely enjoy a fast internet connection service from a VPN provider.
4. Kill Switch
A kill switch automatically disconnects your internet connection when you cannot connect to your VPN. This feature further adds to your protection because it prevents any server from detecting your original IP address.
5. Global Coverage
Some of the best VPN providers across the globe also have a foothold of servers across the globe. The wider your server coverage, the more benefits you can get.
With a global coverage VPN service, you can go to websites, watch videos, listen to music, and play games that might be blocked by the Indian government.
6. Customer Support
VPN providers work similarly to mobile data service providers. Problems in their services often arise from issues on the connection and transmission of information. You would need customer support service from these VPN providers almost as much as you need customer support from your mobile data service providers.
VPN providers should, therefore, give out the best customer support so that they can attend to the individual needs and problems of their clients. Customer support should include any of the following: online chat support, a phone support a corresponding email, or a feedback form.
7. Easy-To-Understand User Interface
When choosing a VPN service provider, it is crucial to know how to use the features of your VPN so you can maximize what you paid for. A VPN with a setup that is easy to understand and use will be good for novice internet users in India who are just beginning to learn the internet.