India has passed a new legislation mandating that VPN providers must gather customer data. The Indian public is outraged by this, and VPN service providers threatened to leave the nation if the government does not reverse its decision. However it looks like, sadly, the Indian government are holding firm.
Thankfully, the law will likely be difficult to implement because the majority of leading VPN services utilise RAM-only servers which don't keep logs. Plus, they can easily just switch to servers that aren't in India and Indians can freely use them - including for neighboring countries like Nepal or Pakistan. Not surprisingly, VPN companies have chosen a "wait and see" stance mostly.
Due to its outstanding security features no-logs and virtual server options, ExpressVPN remains the finest VPN for accessing the internet in India without the government breathing down your back.
Using a VPN in India has been recommended for some time now, for anyone who cares about online privacy. So it is with a heavy heart that we must tell you that the Indian government is shortly going to start asking VPN providers to keep five years of logs for every VPN user in India.
But don’t panic just yet because if you’re an Indian VPN user, it is time to do a little research into how you can circumvent this law.
Thankfully, there are ways to do so (as always, regulators are one step behind) and most of them are relatively easy to do.
Here I’m going to clarify what the best ways are to use a VPN in India without your activities being logged, as well as tell you the best VPN providers in India right now that don’t log anything.
What is the new logging policy?
For those that don’t know, the new VPN logging policy in India is a significant blow to user privacy as it demands that VPNs to collect and store user data for at least five years.
Here’s what the Indian government are going to collect:
|VPN connection time||✅|
|Metadata (such as URLs, protocols, etc.)||✅|
|Content of communications||❌|
As you may know, most VPNs don’t operate a logging policy, as they simply do not keep logs. Sadly, this law looks like it will pass into Indian law now, and contradicts the very essence of VPNs, which is to protect user privacy. We’re not exactly fans of it here at VPN Hound.
So what does this mean for you? Well, VPN companies who comply with this order may have to give the Indian government access to user data as well as browsing history upon request. This includes your browsing history and URLs, though it apparently doesn’t include the actual content of things you say online. Hmm…
Many VPNs are looking to close their servers in India rather than comply, leaving users with virtual servers or servers in neighboring countries. One example is ExpressVPN who have removed all their physical servers from India and now offer users Indian IP addresses via virtual servers based in Singapore or elsewhere.
That’s a decent workaround that means you’ll not be subject to the Indian government’s demands. It does mean that your VPN connection might be a bit slower, though.
So are VPNs legal in India?
Yes, VPNs are legal in India still and will probably remain so.
But this policy has raised concerns over how VPN providers will respond, and more so how they will protect their users’ data.There isn’t much point in using a VPN if you’re subject to blatant government snooping. So it’s inevitable that people & companies will find a workaround, as many VPN providers have already done.
Many big-name VPN providers such as NordVPN and Ivacy have already shut down their physical servers in India to protect their users’ privacy. ExpressVPN told us they’re in the process of doing the same. In time, we expect all of the big VPNs to shut down their Indian servers.
But it isn’t over yet.
Can the Indian Police track me?
Yes and no.
While the Indian police cannot track live, encrypted VPN use, they can request traffic logs from ISPs or VPN providers. This makes it crucial to use a logless, overseas VPN for maximum protection.
So what will happen now?
Crucially, the government has not said that VPNs will be outright illegal. Instead, they have said that the collection of specific sorts of data must now happen, which VPNs are designed to avoid, and have thus rendered VPNs more or less “unlawful”.
There are thankfully only a few countries where VPNs are entirely illegal, but this decision approved by the Indian Government may pave the way for other nations who have failed to crack down on VPN usage to try to do so – the law of diminishing returns. There are a number of nations (such as China) where VPNs exist in a kind of quasi-legal area. This may now change. 🙁
VPN Hound will be watching to observe how the Indian government decides to enforce this rule and how it impacts enterprises that use VPNs, especially given the precarious situation of India’s global economy.
It would be economically futile for countries like India or China to restrict the use of virtual server locaitons in places such as the United States, where their prevalence is so widespread. This makes it more difficult for such countries to crack down on the technology overseas, because that risks a political nightmare. So in other words, using a virtual server location in another country outside India will remain absolutely fine going forward.
|VPN Provider||Alternative Server Locations|
🇭🇰 Hong Kong
|Surfshark VPN||🇲🇾 Malaysia|
What information will be logged?
The new regulations mandate that any VPNs who operate in India must “keep customer data”, such as names, addresses, and ownership patterns, for a minimum of five years and to make it available to law enforcement agencies that request it.
They will also be forced to ask why you signed up for a VPN, and VPN companies are required to report any so-called ‘cyber incidents’ that take place, such as spoofing, phishing attacks, data leaks, data breaches, and even access attempts to other people’s (or your own) social media accounts.
Very worrying indeed, and completely OTT government surveillance that will ultimately achieve little.
So even though VPNs are not illegal in India at this time, and remain likely to be fully legal going forward, the new policy that the government has implemented serves as a timely reminder of how critical it is to choose a reliable VPN service that adheres to a stringent no-logs policy. Plus, you’ll also want one that provides robust security features in order to safeguard your privacy and your personal rights.
What is the point in this law?
As always, it’s intended to ‘prevent abuse’, whatever that means.
What it actually does is strike at the heart of what it means to be free in the digital age. It seeks to deprive Indian citizens of the very anonymity and privacy that many of us cherish, forcing us to surrender our data and browsing history to the state upon request. In this way, the law is a reflection of a growing trend towards surveillance and control, where the state seeks to regulate every aspect of our lives, even in the virtual world.
But just as Sisyphus pushed his boulder up the mountain, only to watch it roll back down again, we must resist the weight of this oppressive law. We must stand firm in our belief that privacy and freedom are inalienable rights, and that no government can take them away from us. For as long as we have VPNs and the courage to use them, we can push back against the encroaching darkness and keep the remnants of digital freedom alive.
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“Any service provider offering services to the users in the country needs to enable and maintain logs and records of financial transactions in Indian jurisdiction,”
Alarmingly, the Indian government has recently doubled down on the law and has stated that if VPN providers do not want to keep logs, India is “not a good place to do business.”
However, VPN use in India is still legal and the best VPNs are choosing to close their Indian servers rather than log user data. It is recommended to use a VPN with solid encryption and obfuscation features, especially when accessing blocked sites.
How have VPNs responded to this law?
NordVPN decided to shut down all of their Indian servers to protect their users’ privacy. They stated that they have “never logged any user data or shared it with third parties.” NordVPN recommends using servers in neighboring countries instead, such as Singapore or Hong Kong.
Like with Nord, they’ve shut down their physical servers in India too and are now recommending you connect via the Singapore or HK servers. There are also loads of other locations fairly nearby, such as Pakistan, Azerbaijan or Thailand.
Which is the best VPN now in India?
ExpressVPN is our top choice and is widely considered to be the most reliable VPN service available in India.
Why? Because it gives its users a real variety of features, such as obfuscated servers that conceal VPN usage from the Indian government, a kill switch, and DNS leak protection to ensure that internet traffic does not leak. These features ensure that your online activity do not become exposed to anyone including the Indian police. ExpressVPN had in the past maintained physical server locations in Chennai and Mumbai; however, the company has now transitioned to using only virtual servers.
ExpressVPN also has servers located in 93 additional countries, including some of the countries that aborder India such as Bangladesh, Myanmar, Bhutan, and Pakistan. It is one of the more expensive alternatives, particularly on a monthly basis, despite the fact that it provides top-tier security functions and capabilities.
Interestingly, both NordVPN and Surfshark are available at more affordable prices while still providing a high level of security features, but they lack a few features. On the other hand, and at the other end of the scale, Windscribe is an excellent option for anyone in India who might be looking for a free VPN service.
Frequently Asked Questions for Indian VPNs
Yes, VPNs can be used to access blocked content in India. However, it is important to note that some VPNs may be blocked in India due to the new logging law.
Yes, the law doesn't forbid VPNs, just that they must keep logs on Indian customers.
Mostly, it's recommended to choose a VPN that does not have physical servers located in India due to the new logging law. Examples of this include: ExpressVPN, NordVPN, Mozilla VPN, Surfshark, CyberGhost and more.