Kashmir’s answer to Govt’s Social Media Ban: VPN

Valley users greet Mehbooba Govt from Japan!

Since the government imposed social media ban on 22 popular networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp, the tech-savvy youth have switched to use of Virtual Private Networks (VPN) and Remote Desktop Protocols (RDP) to surpass the limitations setup by the government over the internet.
Despite the ban, Facebook and Twitter timelines could be seen full of rants against the government for banning social media.
The irked youth were all praise of the Virtual Private Network Applications and posts like ‘VPN Zindabad’ and ‘Long Live VPN’ were floating the internet on Saturday.
Netizens took to Facebook and posted satirical posts, making fun of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti-led government.
“Hi from Japan, the weather here is pleasant, anyone else in Japan,” wrote Firdous Ahmad, using Super VPN on Facebook.
Surprisingly, the social media ban was least effective with lot of users claiming access to Facebook and other banned sites.
Netizens have a long list of VPN applications available to eliminate the blockade that has rendered the government’s social media ban almost useless.
Yasir Altaf Zargar, a Srinagar-based web security analyst said, “This ban is violation of the right to expression and free speech, and instead of addressing the escalating situation they are imposing this useless ban.”
A VPN allocates the device a new internet protocol address of some other location thus granting access to the blocked sites.
Netizens posted sarcastic rants against the ban by surpassing the limitations, making fun of the ban with many posts like ‘VPN Zindabad’ and ‘We exist because we resist’.
“Internet is one of the basic human rights in the contemporary times, banning internet is not just unethical but acrimonious too,” Zargar said. “We have not seen such bans even in war-torn Syria or Iraq, the conflict in Palestine has never seen social media been blocked like it is in Kashmir.”
He said the ban on social media websites proves that the e-agitation started by people of Kashmir has created a new challenge for the government.
“If peaceful means of protest like internet are blocked then youth will have no options but to take to streets,” Zargar said. “There are hundreds of VPN applications easily available on internet, it is impossible to block access to social media for the government.”
Abid Rashid, an android developer said thousands of these applications have servers stationed outside the country, and there are ways beyond VPN applications to get access to the blocked sites.
The government’s move has attracted wide spread criticism and netizens in general and business owners in particular are aghast at the ban hitting hard the trembling State economy saying that it is proving devastating for many startups that drive their revenue from social media.
Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) President, Mushtaq Ahmad condemned the State government’s ban on social media.
“If they think banning social media is necessary then they have to compensate us for our losses as well,” he said.
Amid the cyber blockade, people have been introduced to various alternative platforms never known to them before.
Most of the users have migrated to private messengers like Signal, an application that self-destructs messages, thus securing the privacy of the users and keeping the identity of the users hidden from any interceptions.