ExpressVPN and Surfshark to Offer Virtual Servers to India After Shutting Down Physical Servers

  • Last updated June 8, 2022
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Surfshark’s pulling out its VPN (Virtual Private Network) servers in India as the government’s revised policies require VPN providers to store customer logs for 180 days.

People use VPNs for the sole reason that they provide privacy while using the internet, encrypt their traffic and disguise their IP addresses than the ones they’re assigned using servers available around the world. In this way, a user is free to choose a country of their liking and reroute the traffic to change their location to the chosen country.

For a VPN provider, it is an absolute necessity to offer a no-logs policy so that customers can trust them that their IP address, browsing data, timestamps, network traffic and other related information will remain confidential.

Surfshark’s no-logs policy states:

“In short, Surfshark VPN does not keep track of your online whereabouts or actions in any way. The VPN server only keeps enough data to keep your VPN connection going, and nothing of it is kept after you’re done.”

However, with the revised Section 70B of the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000, India has made it mandatory for VPN providers to forsake their values and retain personal data: allotted IP addresses, contact details, user address, the purpose of using the services and whatnot.

According to Surfshark, India’s legal action is rather radical and it’d harm citizens’ rights to privacy instead of safeguarding it. According to Surfshark’s announcement:

“Taking such radical action that highly impacts the privacy of millions of people living in India will most likely be counterproductive and strongly damage the sector’s growth in the country. Ultimately, collecting excessive amounts of data within Indian jurisdiction without robust protection mechanisms could lead to even more breaches nationwide.”

The VPN provider stated that even though they’re shutting down their physical servers, their users can use Surfshark’s virtual servers located in Singapore and London, to get an Indian IP address. It’d work as well as a physical server. There won’t be any change in the VPN services’ speed or website accessibility.

Prior to Surfshark, ExpressVPN has exited the country. One of the world’s largest VPN service providers, ExpressVPN also left the Indian market last week. It also refused to comply with the new rules and regulations to retain user logs for a long period of time.

ExpressVPN also opted to offer virtual servers with Indian IP addresses to facilitate its Indian users. These IP addresses won’t be under Indian law jurisdiction hence, they’d be completely safe for use. They even went on to say how the connections will be much more reliable.

The VPN provider boldly called out the Indian government for their extreme decisions and for limiting internet freedom.

The announcement said:

“ExpressVPN refuses to participate in the Indian government’s attempts to limit internet freedom. As a company focused on protecting privacy and freedom of expression online, we will continue to fight to keep users connected to the open and free internet with privacy and security, no matter where they are located.”

The recent change in the law is certainly a radical decision as a result of which more and more VPN providers will pull out of the Indian market, following Surfshark and ExpressVPN’s suit.

It is very much possible that other VPN competitors are waiting to see how the situation will unfold and whether the government decides to make any last-minute changes or not. Chances are not likely as the new law will be enforced sooner rather than later.


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