VLC Media Player Banned in India; Fresh Downloads, Website Non-Functional

The software is unavailable for fresh downloads across the country as its website has been blocked by the ISPs.

Tech News
2 min read
Hindi Female
Edited By :Tejas Harad

Popular media player software, VLC Media Player, has been banned in India reportedly to avoid cyberattacks by China-backed hacking group, Cicada. The software, developed by VideoLAN, is however accessible to users who already have it installed on their devices, both mobile phones and personal computers.

The VLC app is also reportedly available for download in Google Play Store. But the software is unavailable for fresh downloads across the country as its website has been blocked by many internet service providers.

According to reports, the ban came into effect more than five months ago on 13 February, this year. However, as neither the company nor the government has revealed about the ban when it was effected, most users were unaware of it.

In a recent tweet, user Gagandeep Sapra pointed out that users are greeted with the message, "The website has been blocked as per order of Ministry of Electronics and Information technology under IT Act, 2000," when they try to access the media player website.

Replying to users' query about the software being blocked in the country, VideoLAN said in a tweet that it has been banned by the Indian government.

When asked why it was banned, the company tagged the official account of Ministry of Electronics and IT and said, "That's the biggest question. VideoLAN is a completely apolitical organization (except on DRM and Free software subjects), and we don't provide, convey, censor or distribute any content. And of course, we have no user data whatsoever. Why would @GoI_MeitY block us?"

Further, replying to a Right to Information (RTI) application filed in June this year by, an NGO, which works towards defending digital freedom, the Ministry of Electronics and IT said it has no information related to The RTI plea had sought information related to the blocking of the VLC media player.

Why Has It Been Banned?

As per reports, VLC media player has been banned as it was being used by Cicada, a China-backed hacking group, for causing cyberattacks by deploying malicious code on target systems. These attacks are reportedly part of larger cyberattack campaign, aimed at targeting government-related institutions or NGOs, some of whom work in the areas of education and religion.

Attacks were also carried out on firms working in telecom, legal and pharmaceutical sectors, reported Broadcom Software. Their victims were spread across the regions, including the United States, Canada, Hong Kong, Turkey, Israel, India, Montenegro, and Italy.

In February this year, the Union government banned over 54 Chinese apps, calling them a "threat to privacy and security of Indians."

Many of these apps belonged to large Chinese tech firms like Tencent, Alibaba, and NetEase, and are “rebranded or re-christened avatars” of apps that have been banned in India since 2020, according to the report.

They were allegedly transferring sensitive data to Chinese servers.

(With inputs from India Today and Broadcom Software.)

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Topics:  Spying   Chinese Apps Ban 

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