FSCI is drafting a statement on banning of Free Software apps like Element and Briar

We hope to publish it in two days. Sharing current draft below.

As per media reports, 14 apps including Free Software ones like Element and Briar are banned in India as of 3rd May.[1] As per reports the reasoning behind the ban seems to be, “These apps do not have any representatives in India and cannot be contacted for seeking information as mandated by the Indian laws”. This statement indicates to us that there are gaps in understanding on how federated services work (see Notes section below for a detailed explanation).
There is a lack of clarity on the manner in which the ban will be implemented. We assume that the applications will be de-listed from the app stores.

There seems to be a lack of understanding on part of the government on how these P2P softwares as well as federated apps work. These applications have been crucial for communication during disasters and for regular employment.

The Ban, we believe, will not serve the purpose as there are many anonymous alternate apps that can be used by terror outfits to fill their purpose.

Federated, peer-to-peer, encrypted, Free Software apps/software like Element and Briar, should be promoted. They are key to our national security as they provide means to enable sovereign, private and secure communication to citizens of India. Element has been embraced by Governments of France [2], Germany [3] and Sweden [4] which should be an example for India.


Email is federated, has existed for a long time, and the logic which they applied to banning Element would apply to K-9 Mail, a Free Software client app for email, as well. Email service is provided by many service providers like Google, Microsoft and many others who doesn’t have any representatives in India. Matrix, like email, is federated and is the protocol behind the service. Element is just one of the matrix clients and matrix.org is just one of the matrix service providers. Banning all instances, clients and implementations of matrix is similar to banning all email service providers, email clients and whole email infrastructure, which would be nearly impossible for the government and a new service provider and/or client can come up very easily rather quickly.

Similar to how Matrix is federated, Briar is a P2P (peer to peer) app which means it does not even have a service provider and users who use it need to be online concurrently. Also it does not require internet connection and can be used over a bluetooth or wireless connection. It is useful in emergency situations like natural disasters where all other mediums for communications becomes offline.

You can see the current version of the draft at CryptPad

Element has released a statement https://archive.is/IDNoe and FSCI published its statement at FSCI's statement on banning of Free Software apps like Element and Briar | Free Software Community of India