VLC media player, developed by VideoLAN, is quite popular all over the globe for, well, playing media content. However, the company is now claiming that one of its biggest market is restricting consumer access to the software.
This claim was made by recently VideoLan's president and lead developer Jean-Baptsite Kempf who informed TechCrunch that internet service providers (ISPs) in India have been blocking access to VLC media player's official website since at least February 13.
Kempf says that India represents around 10% of its global userbase and the blockage has resulted in an overall decrease of roughly 20% of VLC's site traffic. The executive didn't go into details but noted that telecom operators in India are persistently blocking VLC's website using "diverse" methodologies.
There is no official reasoning for this restriction publicly known as of yet, but it could be a result of ISPs misunderstanding some security guidance from earlier this year. In April, it was revealed that a China-sponsored hacking group was leveraging VLC media player and other popular applications to exploit the computers of its victims. Since then, ISPs have been on alert on this front. That said, Kempf emphasized that no Indian government agency had contacted him so the blockage is likely due to some misunderstanding.
It is important to understand that the alleged restrictions do not impact existing customers from utilizing VLC media player and they can still download the software from other third-party websites. However, Kempf says that the danger of this circumvention is that users could be lured to shady websites who are bundling the open-source software with malware.