Opened 10 days ago

Last modified 9 days ago

#2358 new enhancement

Review decision to block I2P on Google Play Store downloads from India (and any other countries)

Reported by: slumlord Owned by: meeh
Priority: minor Milestone: undecided
Component: apps/android Version: 0.9.37
Keywords: android, india, google play store Cc: str4d, meeh
Parent Tickets:

Description

Users in certain countries are blocked from downloading I2P on the Google Play Store

I2P is currently blocked to any user from India - it may be blocked in other countries too where there isn't any official traffic-management policy in place which would identify & block I2P's website or traffic. I propose that a list of countries where I2P has been determined to be in violation of some country's crypto-treaties (e.g. USA's laws/regulations around export of software which makes use of cryptography) and entirely blocked to users of said countries be produced -- as well as any other reasons for preventing users from accessing the I2P software. Subsequently, this list of countries should be reconsidered as to whether the blockage is still necessary or relevant.


India

Android users in India are blocked from downloading I2P from the Google Play Store. I am unaware as to when this decision was made and the reasons for such a decision. Other privacy tools such as Tor, Signal, Telegram, Threema etc. are all easily available through the Google Play Store so blocking users from countries such as India on the basis of existing laws/regulations does not seem to be valid.

India has an estimated 400 million internet users:
(clearnet) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_number_of_Internet_users

India is estimated to have around 500 million smartphone users in 2018:
(clearnet) https://indianexpress.com/article/technology/india-set-to-have-530-million-smartphone-users-in-2018-study-4893159/

Data rates for mobile phone users in India are amongst the lowest in the world:
http://blogs.worldbank.org/opendata/where-are-cheapest-and-most-expensive-countries-own-mobile-phone


The decision to block Google Play Store users from downloading I2P on the basis of country may have made sense at the point where it was made -- I can't really say since I don't have any of the discussions/those whom I have asked don't recall the basis for the decisions/those who made the decisions aren't communicative/responsive other than for a mere 1% of a year despite having been responsible for major decisions affecting the I2P project.

Moving forward, I think the basis for these decisions should be documented and displayed on our website so that experts, legal or otherwise, who actually live in these countries and have the requisite knowledge & experience may be allowed to comment and provide their own input.

At a time where the I2P project is trying to grow the userbase and is positioning themselves as a project that passionately supports privacy, freedom & security it seems to be a major oversight to block users from certain countries, in some cases countries with a large population of internet users, from easily participating in the I2P network.

Subtickets (add)

Change History (1)

comment:1 Changed 9 days ago by zzz

  • Cc str4d meeh added
  • Component changed from package/other to apps/android
  • Owner set to meeh

The list of blocked countries on GPlay was developed and implemented by str4d, based on his review of Google rules and applicable U.S. crypto export regulations and associated guidance that he researched. As he is apparently the unresponsive person you reference above, unfortunately we will have to redo all that work. There's no shortcut.

You're correct that I don't recall the details and I don't have any records. I do remember generally that there was no definitive guidance to be found - just posts about what other projects did, and how they interpreted the rules. But the final list was not at all arbitrary, it was based on research and a synthesis of the information gathered. Of course, the rules or the industry consensus may have changed in the years since.

We also need meeh to give us the current list of blocked countries from the GPlay admin interface.

As android is essentially unstaffed at this point, I doubt anybody will get to this soon.

As far as your suggestion to post the decisions and reasoning somewhere, I'm not sure that's a good idea - to put your legal analysis out there for all to see just begs somebody to disagree and get us in trouble. Also, there's no use soliciting expert opinion from legal experts in banned countries - the law that applies is U.S. law.

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