‘Lack of understanding’: Software body criticises Centre’s move to ban 14 applications
The government had claimed that the applications were being used by militants and their supporters to communicate in Jammu and Kashmir.
A software body on Friday criticised the Centre’s decision to recently block 14 mobile applications saying that it reflects the government’s lack of understanding.
On May 2, media reports said that applications were banned by the Centre as they were being used by militants and their supporters in Jammu and Kashmir.
The apps reportedly banned included Wickrme, Mediafire, Briar, BChat, Nandbox, Conion, IMO, Element, Second Line, Zangi, Threema, Crypviser, Enigma, and Safeswiss.
An unidentified central intelligence officer had told The Indian Express that the ban was recommended after it was found that the applications were being used by militants and their supporters to communicate with their overground workers in Kashmir. Overground workers help arrange logistics for militant groups.
“These apps do not have any representatives in India and cannot be contacted for seeking information as mandated by the Indian laws,” an officer had said, according to the newspaper.
On Saturday, the Free Software Community of India said that there is a lack of clarity on the manner in which the ban is implemented. The body describes itself as a collective of free software users, advocates and developers on its website.
“There seems to be a lack of understanding on the part of the government on how these P2P [peer-to-peer] software as well as federated apps work,” it said in a statement. “These applications have been crucial for communication during disasters and are used regularly as a communication medium in workplaces.”
The body said that it was informed that authorities previously contacted the company behind Element, to which they had responded constructively. “Element also had to know about the ban from media reports since there was no communication informing them of the ban,” it said.
It further said that the ban would not serve its purpose as there are many anonymous alternate apps that can be used by militant outfits.
“Federated, peer-to-peer, encrypted, free Software apps/software like Element and Briar, should be promoted,” the collective said. “They are key to our national security as they provide means to enable sovereign, private and secure communication to citizens of India.”