VideoLAN, a popular open source video player, has issued a notice to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and the Ministry of Information Technology (MeitY) over the blocking of its website in India. The DTS has requested a copy of the motifted blocking order for the website''s ban, as well as an opportunity to defend its case via a virtual hearing. Earlier this year, digital liberties organization Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF) was informed by MeitY that it did not have any information about
Jean-Baptiste Kempf, the head of the VLC development of VideoLAN, said in his legal notice to the DoT that the organisation was unaware that its website was previously blocked, without prior notice. News organizations were largely aware of the blockage of the website for the popular media player, while eliciting reactions from users on social media.
The legal notice of the organisation states that the VideoLAN website was blocked without prior notice or providing an opportunity of a hearing. It also states that the DoT did not follow the procedures set forth in Rule 8 of Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking of Information by Public) Rules, 2009, and the Supreme Court''s decision in the landmark Shreya Singhal v. Union of India case.
Officials responsible for blocking orders must make reasonable efforts to identify the originator or intermediary, issue a notice, provide a hearing before the concerned authority, and provide a copy of the reasoned blocking order, according to the IT Rules.
The legal notice says it has been six months since the website blocking was first reported, and the reasons for it have not yet been addressed to the organization, which has also not received a notice of hearing or a copy of the reasoned blocking order.
The URL''s removal is a violation of international obligations to protect free speech in India under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
MeitY''s website claims that open source is an extremely important component of Digital IndiaPhoto Credit: Screenshot/Digital India Website/ MeitY
The media player''s website has been banned, as part of the Digital India program. MeitY has promoted the use of open source and open technologies. The most popular open source software around the world is VLC Media Player, Mozilla''s Firefox browser, and Thunderbird email client, LibreOffice, WordPress, and Inkscape.
It is also worth noting that the unlawful use of the VideoLAN website in India might force millions of users to download the application via third-party websites, increasing the risk of infection from malicious software. VLC Media Player for other platforms is still available for download via the Google Play store and the App Store.
Gadgets 360 has reached out to the DoT and MeitY for questions, and will update this story once their responses are received.
VideoLAN has requested that the DoT provide a copy of the reasoned blocking order for blocking the URL, as well as a chance to defend the organisation''s rights through a virtual hearing.