The Indian government banned 14 open source messaging apps last week revealing them as a threat to national security on the recommendation of the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Wickrme, Element, BChat, Conion, Mediafire, Zangi, Nandbox, IMO, and Briar – These are the apps that cite the risk of terrorism in J&K. Jammu & Kashmir, even though it is part of India and is managed under Indian administration, has a majority Muslim community. Due to this reason Pakistan claims the place unauthorized.
Pakistan is backing independence activists in the region, even though basically no resident actually wants Jammu and Kashmir to be a part of Pakistan. India has imposed connectivity restrictions in the area, and only 2G services are available there so that it becomes hard for leaders who want to separate these states from India and they are unable to manage and execute their illegal and immoral plans.
Why is India Banning these apps?
As reported by the security agencies, these messaging apps may be used by separatists and terrorists to plan attacks without coming in the radar of the local police and authorities. By banning these apps their networking will be slowed down and hence, hinder their strategies.
The Free Software Community of India has pointed out that FOSS, or free and open-source software, relies on decentralized collaboration, and that it is not feasible for the developers of these apps to have representatives in every country where the apps are used. The Community has also argued that the ban on these apps could have a negative impact on the privacy and security of users who rely on them for communication.
Since the source code for FOSS projects is freely available, banning an app would not necessarily be an effective enforcement tool. It may be possible for users to simply download and install the app from another source, or for developers to create a new version of the app with different features or a different name. It is important for governments to balance their concerns about national security with the rights of individuals to communicate privately and securely. This is a complex issue, and there may not be a one-size-fits-all solution.
Briar MESH Networking
One interesting news is that the Briar project has been focusing on building mesh networks out of Android devices during internet outages, as detailed in their blog post last week.
This approach will allow users to continue to communicate with one another even if the internet is down, which could be particularly useful in areas with poor internet connectivity or during emergencies.
Even if an Android device’s internet connection doesn’t work, apps on the device are still able to connect to IP addresses that remain reachable, and the device can still resolve DNS queries for other domains.
This means that it should still be possible to communicate with other devices on local networks or national subsets of the internet, even if access to the global internet is blocked.
Of course, there are still challenges to building mesh networks, such as ensuring that devices are able to communicate with one another securely and reliably. However, the Briar project’s efforts in this area are an example of how technology can be used to address real-world communication challenges, and highlights the potential of FOSS projects to develop innovative solutions to complex problems.