MeitY however, doesn't include any specific response with respect to blocking VPNs permanently. At the moment, it is not clear what the follow-up move regarding this would be. Moves to block VPNs in India and abroad are often deemed by privacy advocates as a move that may stifle the free exchange of information on the internet.
It also asked the Ministry of Home Affairs to strengthen the tracking and surveillance mechanisms to put a check on the use of VPN and the dark Web. The government further simplified the rules in June this year. The recent moves were essentially aimed to help employees work remotely amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The MHA may put its efforts in getting such information from MeitY and furnish the same to the Committee. In its report presented to Rajya Sabha regarding the government action on previous concerns,
In addition to the blockage of VPNs, the standing committee recommended the government to set up more cyber forensic laboratories. The Ministry must take initiatives to strengthen the tracking and surveillance mechanisms by further improving and developing the state-of-the-art technology, to put a check on the use of VPN and the dark web.
The ministry confirmed to the committee if the request for blocking of such VPNs is received under section 69A of the IT Act, MeitY can initiate the process as specified in the rules of the said section.
The recommendations by the parliamentary committee come months after the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) scrapped the earlier regulations for IT business and call centres in the country to ease the usage of VPNs.
The Committee, therefore, recommends that the Ministry of Home Affairs should coordinate with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to identify and permanently block such VPNs with the help of internet service providers.