Indian Government Blocks Open Source Messaging Apps
The Indian government has begun blocking 14 messaging apps, including open-source projects Element and Briar, as part of an initiative to hamper the coordination of separatists. The formal reason provided for blocking was the lack of representatives of these projects in India who could be held legally liable for the activities related to the applications, requiring them to provide information about users under current Indian legislation.
However, this has led to opposition from the Indian community of Free Software Community of India (FSCI) users, who have stated that these projects are not centrally controlled and that their work may be essential for organizing communications during natural disasters. They have also noted that the presence of an open code and a decentralized nature of the projects makes a block ineffective as attackers can make changes at the protocol level to bypass restrictions.
P2P mode, which facilitates the sending of messages through users, bypassing servers, and the expansion of their own servers, which are unknown to the institutions accompanying the lock lists, illustrates that the open-source code of these projects makes it almost impossible to implement an effective block. The Briar app also allows communication between phones via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and MESH network, without needing an internet connection.
As India continues to enforce these restrictions, it remains to be seen whether alternative methods of communication will be developed, or if the Indian government will change their approach to regulating messaging apps in the country.