In the legal notice, VideoLAN said that the DoT has blocked its URL in India without any prior notice or an opportunity to be heard in front of the concerned authority
Will initiate legal action against if DoT and MeitY fail to comply with our demands: VideoLAN
DoT blocked access to VideoLAN’s URL in India back in February 2022
Open source media player platform VideoLAN, has sent a legal notice to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) over a ban that was imposed on it in August this year.
In the legal notice, VideoLAN has alleged that its website was blocked in the country without a prior notice or an opportunity to present its case before the concerned authority.
DoT blocked VideoLAN’s uniform resource locator (URL) in the country back in March 2022. Thereafter, VideoLAN approached MeitY, requesting it to share the reason for the ban. However, the company claims to have not received any response from MeitY at the time.
Citing Rule 8 of IT Rules, 2009 and the Supreme Court (SC) judgement in the Shreya Singhal case, VideoLAN said that authorities are required by law to issue a notice to the entity whose content or website is getting banned.
Adding further, the Paris-based non-profit company also said that the government is also mandated to share the ban notice with the entity in question and has to offer the platform a chance to represent itself before the concerned authorities.
“VideoLAN requests government offices to revisit the matter and provide it with a copy of the reasoned blocking order issued for blocking the URL and an opportunity to defend itself via a virtual hearing,” the notice added.
While it has so far only sent a legal notice, the company has warned DoT and MeitY of legal action if they fail to comply with the said demands. In a multi-pronged approach, VideoLAN also said that it will take legal action against the two departments for violating international law and for breaching their own obligations of endorsing open-source softwares under the Digital India Initiative.
In August, the website of VideoLAN suddenly became inaccessible, prompting many to raise alarm over a possible ban. What emerged later was that the company claimed that it had been banned back in February itself along with 54 other Chinese apps.
The platform claims that many civil society members subsequently filed Right To Information (RTI) applications with DoT demanding the reason for the ban. Eventually, the applications were transferred to MeitY which later replied stating that no information regarding the blocking of VideoLAN’s URL was available with it.
Interestingly, while authorities have banned the website, the VLC icon and logo continue to be plastered over government websites promoting open-source softwares.
In essence, VideoLAN is a non-profit organisation that developed VLC Media Player in 1996. The VLC media player was made public in 2001 and is currently available for use on desktops and smartphones catering to Android, iOS and iPadOS operating systems.
VideoLAN claims that its media player VLC is presently used by 80 Mn Indians. It also claims to have witnessed an average of 25 Mn downloads every year in India since its inception.
While VideoLAN has just sent a legal notice, another intermediary, microblogging platform Twitter, has also dragged the government to Court over ‘innocuous’ takedown orders without specifying any reason.