I have a very similar question to the one asked here (regarding Iran). However, I would like to use ssh and vpn while being in India. I found already this survey of cryptographic laws but I don't understand the implications for ssh and VPN.

Additionally it would be helpful to know whom to ask in the country. Do you think the embassy or a lawyer would know?

Many thanks in advance.

5 Answers 5


Professor Koops's excellent summary says that ssh and VPN are legal to use and bring into the country, but that you are required to provide your passwords and encryption keys to the authorities if they ask for them.

However, as a general rule, you should trust neither my nor the Professors advice and instead consult a lawyer, in India, who specializes in this area.

(Your lawyer in your own jurisdiction will have ways to find one.)

  • I wonder how that affects a DH / ephemerally keyed session.
    – Jeff Ferland
    Commented Mar 22, 2012 at 16:45
  • Ah, the specific wording of the law is carefully vague: basically, if the cops tell you to decrypt your data, you either do it, whatever that involves, or spend the next 7 years in prison. Commented Mar 27, 2012 at 10:10
  • Not sure if applicable here, but legislation tends to differentiate between stored data and data in transit.
    – Legolas
    Commented Mar 28, 2012 at 14:03

Use of SSH and VPN is fully legal in India as long as the software uses less than 256 bit encryption. Users are liable to provide and comply to all requests by security agencies in this regard. There was a legal battle over encryption in Blackberry Tiger Messaging not being accesible to security agencies and after the incident Department of Telecommunication issued special guidelines which were legalised by the Supreme Court. In India no parliamentary law exists in this regard so the directives of the Supreme Court are final.

I can confirm the above because many Government and Private Universities use 256 bit encrypted SSH for examination and communication purposes including my place of study Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani, India. A notice from the legal department clearly stated all the regulations and gave guidelines to computer science students over limitations in encryption usage.


Using Ssh and VPN may not be legal in India. It is better to consult a good cyber lawyer in India in this regard.

Kindly refer to Encryption Policy Of India Is Needed.

Further, you may consult Perry4Law in this regard if stakes are high.


It may not be allowed to use ssh and VPN in India as on date.

It is only now that India is considering raising the encryption level to 128 bits. It means for the time being you cannot use more than 40 bits encryption in India.

Asking the embassy would not serve your purpose. Get the help of some good Indian lawyer of your choice in this regard.

  • For reference, can you cite the law/regulation that restricts encryption to 40 bits? I've had a quick look at the IT Acts of 2000 and 2008 and don't see it, although of course IANAL. Commented Mar 28, 2012 at 10:31

Graham IT Act 2000 is still silent on encryption issue as Indian government has not formulated the necessary guidelines in this regard u/s 84A of IT Act 2000.

The restriction is flowing from the rules and regulations issued by the department of telecommunication (DOT) in this regard.

However, this is a bad method as now such rules of DOT are being challenged in courts and Indian parliament.

  • All the more reason to consult a good local lawyer with experience in this area... Commented Mar 28, 2012 at 13:05

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