India is Cracking Down on VPN Use in Kashmir: What to Do
Ever since the Indian Government banned access to social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, a growing number of people in the country have been using VPNs to bypass these blocks. Unfortunately, the most popular VPNs being used are free and often fraudulent. There have already been many reports over VPN users claiming their bank accounts have been hacked while using VPNs.
UK-based VPN provider, Surfshark, recently released a statement detailing how free VPNs can cause more harm than good. New data from the company which analyzed the 16 most popular VPNs being used in Kashmir found 13 of those free VPNs log their users’ information and share it with third parties. Many VPN users in Kashmir are blissfully unaware of the fact their personal information is being sold from company to company.
The continued scrutiny of VPNs, coupled with the fact that bandwidth in Kashmir is through a 2G network, is making it increasingly difficult for people in the country to access restricted websites. Thankfully, there is a small list of reliable VPNs that still work in Kashmir. Although it’s worth mentioning that given the Government’s continued crackdown on VPNs, while these VPNs were working at the time of writing in Kashmir, they may not be working by the time you’re reading this. It’s also important to note that the 2G network in Kashmir won’t always provide you with a stable connection and you may experience regular disconnections.
While we would normally discourage the use of free VPNs, UFO VPN is one of the few providers that is still working in Kashmir. The website does operate with a no-logging policy, so is much more secure than other free VPN providers that people may be using. UFO VPN provides users with access to over 2000 servers across 50 countries, making it easy to access any websites that are currently whitelisted in Kashmir. You’ll also be able to connect any device you’re using to the VPN as long as it’s an Android, iOS, Mac OS, or Windows. It offers competitive speeds but you won’t be able to make the most of them using a 2G network, unfortunately.
The most effective way of bypassing the web restrictions the Indian Government has put in place in Kashmir will set you back $10 per month. This will allow you to connect an unlimited number of devices in your household with access to hundreds of ultrafast servers in over 50 countries. Its Kill Switch means that if you’re suddenly disconnected from your VPN, your location and your internet activity won’t be revealed as your internet connectivity will be immediately interrupted to protect you.
One of the most popular and safest VPNs used by people in Kashmir, unfortunately, has a downside: its server speeds are suffering as a result. Your Freedom isn’t one of the largest VPNs out there, so its servers can get easily slowed down when they’re inundated by lots of traffic. It’s not clear if Your Freedom operates a No Logging policy as the wording it uses in the data protection section of its website is quite vague. As such, it’s important to remember that while Your Freedom is regarded by many people in Kashmir as being the safest and one of the easiest ways of browsing the internet, your enjoyment of these websites could eventually be ruined by somebody accessing your information.
In most circumstances, we would advise against the use of free VPNs. What’s happening in certain parts of India right now is similar to the China firewall. As research from SurfShark has shown, free VPNs are usually free because they sell the information of their users to third party networks. We don’t support the whitelisting of websites and imposing forceful restrictions on web users and understand that in times like these, people in Kashmir will be looking at ways to bypass such restrictions. Restrictions may eventually be lifted by the Indian Government, as recently demonstrated in the temporary easing of restrictions back in March. If you’re in Kashmir and need to access the internet, just be aware that using a free VPN may compromise your data.