The Government of India has ordered internet service providers (ISP) to ban three “specific” website URLs in the country, all belonging to WeTransfer.
On its about me page, Netherlands-based file sharing platform WeTransfer claims that “trust and transparency are two offline values that we bring to everything we do online.” WeTransfer also has numbers and celebrity endorsements to back that claim. WeTransfer is currently banned in India, in the interest of national security. It seems the ban is only partial though, since we can still access the website and its file-sharing service on our Airtel broadband connection in Delhi.
The Government of India has ordered internet service providers (ISP) to ban three “specific” website URLs in the country, all belonging to WeTransfer (order dated May 18, 2020). One of them is the entire WeTransfer website, while the other two correspond to files uploaded to the file sharing platform. The ban has been served on an “immediate” basis and failure to comply will invite due action under the provider’s license agreement.
WeTransfer has acknowledged the India ban on its official website. “At this moment in time, WeTransfer seems to be blocked and unavailable in India. We are working hard to understand the reasoning behind this block, as well as how to get it reverted as soon as possible. We are doing all we can to fix this.”
The ban comes amid the coronavirus outbreak when more and more people have been forced to stay cooped up inside their homes. Many have been working from home too, something that has also led to a surge in usage of file sharing platforms like WeTransfer.
The Government has issued the ban on WeTransfer “in the interest of national security or public interest,” though the reasoning behind it isn’t backed by any proof. WeTransfer also doesn’t specify how or why it might have got into trouble with the Government. But it’s surely not the first time, internet service providers have been ordered to ban or block websites in the country. The Megaupload fiasco in 2011, and the recent Government order to ban over 800 websites (mostly connected to piracy and pornography), are examples.
Also, the Government has been very mindful about the internet as a whole and user privacy, especially in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak because there has also been a surge in cyberthreats in the aftermath. The Ministry of Home Affairs recently issued an advisory for Zoom users in India to be mindful of their virtual meetings from prying eyes, deeming the video conferencing platform unsafe. It is currently mulling a complete ban on the cloud-based video conferencing platform.