India is pushing ahead with its new cybersecurity rules that will require cloud service providers and VPN operators to maintain names of their customers and their IP addresses despite many firms threatening to leave the world’s second largest internet market over the new guidelines.
The Indian Computer Emergency Response Team clarified (PDF) on Wednesday that “virtual private server (VPS) providers, cloud service providers, VPN service providers, virtual asset service providers, virtual asset exchange providers, custodian wallet providers and government organisations” shall follow the directive, called Cyber Security Directions, that requires them to store customers’ names, email addresses, IP addresses, know your customer records, financial transactions for a period of five years.
The new rules, which were unveiled late last month and go into effect late June, won’t be applicable to corporate and enterprise VPNs, the government agency clarified.
New Delhi is also not relaxing a new rule that will mandates firms to report incidents of security incidents and data breaches within six hours of noticing such cases.
Rajeev Chandrasekhar, the junior IT minister of India, told reporters on Wednesday that India was being “very generous” in giving firms six hours of time to report security incidents, pointing to nations such as Indonesia and Singapore that have stricter requirements.
“If you look at precedence all around the world — and understand that cybersecurity is a very complex issue, where situational awareness of multiple incidents allow us to understand the larger force behind it — reporting accurately, on time, and mandatorily is an absolute essential part of the ability of CERT and the government to ensure that the internet is always safe,” he said.
Several VPN providers have expressed worries about India’s new cybersecurity rules. NordVPN, one of the most popular VPN operators, said earlier that it may remove its services from India if “no other options are left.”
Other service providers, including ExpressVPN and ProtonVPN, have also shared their concerns. “The new Indian VPN regulations are an assault on privacy and threaten to put citizens under a microscope of surveillance. We remain committed to our no-logs policy,” said ProtonVPN.
Earlier this month, New Delhi-based digital rights advocacy group Internet Freedom Foundation said the new directions were vague and they undermined user privacy and information security, “contrary to CERT’s mandate.”
On the other hand, many have welcomed some changes. “There has been a lot of pressure on CERT-In with large scale data breaches being reported across India. Most of the breaches were denied by the companies and despite its mandate, CERT-In never acted on these reports,” said Srinivas Kodali, a researcher.