file sharing service WeTransfer has more than 50 million users around the world, who send over a billion files between them every month. WeTransfer’s appeal lies in its simplicity – it allows users to send files up to 2 GB in size to anyone else, delivered straight to the recipient’s email, without having to create an account. A premium paid plan offers more features and larger file capacities, but for most users, the free plan does the trick.
SHOOTING THE MESSENGER
We Transfer is the latest in a long list of online services that have been arbitrarily banned in India due to the illegal practices of a few of its users. In 2011, the now-defunct file sharing service Megaupload was banned in India after pirated versions of a newly launched Bollywood film were found to have been uploaded by a user.
In 2014, more than 200 websites, including file-sharing sites like Google Docs, Rapidshare and Sendspace, had been ordered banned by the Delhi High Court after a complaint by Sony, broadcaster of the FIFA World Cup that year.
Most of the website bans in the past have come as a result of public interest litigations (PIL) drawing attention to pornographic or violent content, or piracy complaints from copyright holders such as filmmakers or broadcasters.
In many of these cases, John Doe orders by courts have let to hundreds of websites being banned.
However, in all cases, rather than simply targeting the dubious content in question, the bans have extended to the entire website. File sharing websites provide the service of allowing users to send files to others.
They are merely facilitators, and should not be penalised for illegal content that is uploaded by its users, especially since this data is only sent to the intended recipient and not made public.
These services are merely facilitators and the vast majority of its users do not use it to share illegal or objectionable content. In the case of WeTransfer, the ban isn’t the result of a PIL or a complaint, but rather an independent decision of the telecom ministry.
The order cites a stipulation of the Unified License that applies to ISPs, which states: “In the interest of national security or public interest, the Licensee shall block Internet sites/Uniform Resource Locators (URLs)/Uniform Resource Identifiers (URIs) and/or individual subscribers, as identified and directed by the
Even though the above condition allows for the removal of individual URLs, the telecom department has still taken the decision to block the entire WeTransfer website.
This will no doubt hurt the millions of Indians who continue to work from home during the lockdown, and who turn to file sharing services like WeTransfer to send documents and files back and forth.