With more than 400% yearly growth in VPN (virtual private network) apps downloaded, India has emerged as the third-largest country after Indonesia and the US with over 57 million downloads.
The significant rise in the growth came in response to internet shutdowns as internet users sought to circumvent the restrictions imposed upon them.
Between October-December, it increased 66% on average each month for the three months. In 2018, India endured 134 internet shutdowns, with almost all of them targeting mobile internet services.
India witnessed fivefold increase in VPN app downloads because of various issues including civil conflicts, local elections, killings of politicians by militant separatists, said VPN review service Top10VPN’s global report.
A VPN, generally, allows a user to bypass geo-blocks and government censorship by hiding the real Internet Protocol (IP) address on the Internet.
In recent years, the Indian government has been trying to control misinformation and fake news. While existing India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology norms in this regard still have many terms and responsibilities unassigned and defined, the government plans to come up with broad rules assigning responsibilities to intermediaries by early next year.
Among the other fastest-growing markets were Jordan (387%) and Kazakhstan (210%). Globally, there were 480.1 million mobile VPN app downloads in the past 12 months with a 54% yearly increase.
Close to 75% of all downloads took place on Android (358.3 Mn) whereas 121.9 million downloads happened on iOS.
The report further revealed Turbo VPN, with 51.3 million downloads, as the most popular VPN provider. Over 80% of all mobile VPN downloads provided free services, it added.
The growth is largely being driven by the rise in digital authoritarianism around the world combined with a growing awareness of the value of our personal data, said Simon Migliano, Head of Research at Top10VPN.