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In brief: TechSpot lists VLC Player as an essential app to install on a PC or Mac, but one of the world's most populous countries has tried to ban it. The attempt may be due to regional tensions, but it's likely impossible to block all access to a piece of PC software.
The official website for VLC Player has been inaccessible in India for a few months now. The Indian government banned it, possibly after a security incident, but that won't necessarily stop Indian users from getting it.
Right now, it appears that Indian ISPs are blocking VideoLAN's website as well as mobile downloads of VLC Player, though some ISPs haven't restricted Google Play Store downloads. Those who already have VLC Player installed can still use it. VideoLAN told India Today that the ban started in February, but many users in India are still discovering they can't download the famously versatile media player through official channels.
India's Department of Telecommunications hasn't explained the restriction, but it could be out of fear of Chinese hackers. In April, security researchers discovered that Chinese hackers were using VLC to deliver malware loaders that could spy on users and steal credentials. Indian authorities have been wary of any software connected to China for a couple of years due to border conflicts between the two countries.
If you are in India, please help us. https://t.co/rOpIjlx0q9— VideoLAN (@videolan) August 12, 2022
In 2020, India banned over 100 apps and games linked to China – many of them very popular, including TikTok, PUBG, WeChat, Baidu, AliPay, and Sina News. The move came after disputes between China and India over a Himalayan border turned violent.
However, blocking the official website for a PC app only stops users from reaching the app's primary safe download location. Many will likely look for alternative download mirrors that could spread malware similar to the earlier attacks.
Furthermore, VideoLAN patched the vulnerability which led to those attacks, making India's current ban meaningless. Alternate downloads could contain older versions of VLC Player that are still vulnerable.
Fortunately, many sites maintain safe and up-to-date downloads of popular PC software like VLC, including TechSpot. If you are in India and can't access VideoLAN's download page, you can get VLC Player here for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android.