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Indian Government Ban on Element Is Stupid

Posted on 18/06/2023 11:10:49 AM GMT

Recently, Indian government became the first ever democratic government to ban E2EE chat clients on mass scale, one of which is Element which I use regularly. However, these bans for now are only applied to Kashmir state where I don't live so even though I am not "affected" by this ban, I still went ahead to write this article anyway due to the sheer stupidity and malice of the Indian government.

The Reason

If you are not from India, you might be surprised that the reason of the government justifying to "ban" these apps is not for "protecting muh children" like usual governments do, but rather for the reason of the terrorists apparently using these apps, for which their only "prove" is from the government itself. Now even though the topic of terrorism in Kashmir itself is not under the scope of this article, however I do want to let you know that terrorism there is indeed a serious issue. This however, does not justify the actions of the government at the slightest for which I will get to it later. Unfortunately, the government here has a habit of actively censoring contents whenever there is a senstive issue happening in the country. For some context, here the internet shutdowns occured 84 times, 49 of which happened on Kashmir alone.

The Stupidity

This ban however is dumb above and beyond especially on banning Element due to the fact that the government is just basically restricting the access of one client. Since Element is a client of Matrix a decentralized protocol which has no centralized servers where encrypted chats and its contents are stored but rather there can be hundreads of instances, some of which aren't even accessible to regular people at all as well as having mutliple clients which haven't got banned, this ban becomes hilariously useless. Even if they try to ban those clients as well, you can still get it either through F-Droid or through other means as at least for now, the ban is only focused for Google Play Store where the "banned" apps were being listed on. However, do note that if the police caught you using one of these apps, you can get into trouble so keep that in mind.

The Usual Thing

This is not the first time the Indian Government tried to censor a platform for the justification of "muh terrorists were using it". In fact, this behaviour has been repeated for years. As an another example, back in 2014 the Indian Government forced several ISPs here to restrict Github and Pastebin for the reason of "ISIS terrorists use these platforms to host extremist contents". As expected, no proves were provided for such claims and eventually they quietly lifted the restriction.

The Question Of Safety Over Liberty

Many government sympathizers (aka bootlickers) claim that banning these apps is actually a good thing for the safety of the citizens. I absolutely disagree, as this action is justifying the violation of right of privacy and freedom of speech for the citizens. The government is already targeting E2EE apps to have absolute control over what citizens are saying hence this ban is just a start. The government will keep on expanding its tyranny for the exact same reason again and again to the point that they will have have absolute control over the citizens themselves, removing their liberty all together, the thing what is an essential part in a human. And if you still believe on their narrative then answer me this, why is the government not allowing the citizens especially of Kashmir to have easier access of firearms? Why are they restricting the ability of the regular citizens to defend themselves and their families from the terrorists? Why are they keep making the citizens to rely on the centralized authority just for their safety?