21.Globe RadiatingCode

India's government has reportedly banned 14 messaging apps on national security grounds, including some open source services.

News of the move appeared in local media last week, citing government sources for news that apps including Element, Wickrme, Mediafire, Briar, BChat, Nandbox, Conion, IMO and Zangi were banned on the recommendation of the Ministry of Home Affairs. The Ministry cited risk of terrorism in the region of Jammu and Kashmir – a majority Muslim territory administered by India but also claimed by Pakistan.

India accuses Pakistan of backing independence activists in the region – and imposed years-long connectivity restrictions that meant only 2G services were available – on the grounds that it made it harder for separatists to organize.

This latest crackdown targets messaging apps India reportedly believes could be used by separatists to plan attacks without authorities being able to intercept their chatter. That's the logic India nearly always uses – indeed, that just about any government uses – when shuttering networks or banning content and apps.

But the Free Software Community of India – a collective of FOSS users and developers – has taken issue with the banning of peer-to-peer open source messaging apps Briar and Element.

The Community cited reports that India banned the two services because they do not have in-country representatives who can be held legally accountable for activity conducted with the apps. It points out that's a slightly ridiculous position given FOSS relies on decentralized collaboration.