Indian government plans to ban ProtonMail over hoax bomb threat

A hoax bomb threat was sent to 13 private schools in Chennai on February 8, 2024, using a ProtonMail. The Tamil Nadu police failed to trace the IP or get assistance from Interpol, and then they requested the IT Ministry to block access to ProtonMail.

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The Indian government has reportedly decided to issue an order to block ProtonMail, an end-to-end encrypted email service, in the country. The move comes after a hoax bomb threat was sent to 13 private schools in Chennai on February 8, 2024, using a ProtonMail account.

According to a report by Hindustan Times, the Tamil Nadu police were unable to trace the IP address of the sender and also failed to get assistance from Interpol. They then requested the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) to block access to ProtonMail in the country. The decision to block ProtonMail was taken at a meeting of the 69A blocking committee on Wednesday afternoon.

Section 69A of the IT Act allows the government to issue orders to any intermediary or a government agency to block any content for national security, public order, and other reasons. Under the same act, the government of India banned Chinese apps, including TikTok, PUBG Mobile, and over 200 other apps, back in 2022.

ProtonMail in a statement to Hindustan Times, said it is working with the Indian government to resolve the issue. “We are currently working to resolve this situation and are investigating how we can best work together with the Indian authorities to do so. We understand the urgency of the situation and are completely clear that our services are not to be used for illegal purposes. We routinely remove users who are found to be doing so and are willing to cooperate wherever possible within international cooperation agreements.”

The company also said, “Proton cannot answer directly to foreign law enforcement authorities, but Swiss authorities may assist foreign authorities with requests, provided they are valid under international assistance procedures and determined to be in compliance with Swiss law.”

Moreover, the company pointed out that blocking ProtonMail would not prevent criminals from using other encrypted services or VPNs to evade detection. The company urged the government to reconsider its decision and respect the right to privacy and freedom of expression of its citizens.

“We condemn a potential block as a misguided measure that only serves to harm ordinary people. Blocking access to Proton is an ineffective and inappropriate response to the reported threats. It will not prevent cybercriminals from sending threats with another email service and will not be effective if the perpetrators are located outside of India,” the company said.

Proton Mail uses end-to-end encryption, which ensures that only the sender and the recipient can access the email content.

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Sumit Roy

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Sumit is the Editor-in-chief at OnlyTech. He loves to cover news about Windows PCs, Android, Smart Devices, and more. You can always find him experimenting with electronic devices when not in front of a computer.

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The Government to block Protonmail

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A hoax bomb threat was sent to 13 private schools in Chennai on February 8, 2024, using a ProtonMail. The Tamil Nadu police failed to trace the IP or get assistance from Interpol, and then they requested the IT Ministry to block access to ProtonMail.

Indian government plans to ban ProtonMail over hoax bomb threat

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