The popular but controversial mobile game PUBG was among 118 Chinese apps that the central government banned on Wednesday in what is being considered its latest round of reprisals against China.
The action is seen as a reprisal against China as the standoff between Beijing and New Delhi continues, especially after there were some fresh Chinese incursion attempts in Indian territory at Pangong Tso in eastern Ladakh.
The Ministry said in its official statement that it was invoking its power under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act and said that the applications posed a security threat to India.
“The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Government of India invoking its power under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act read with the relevant provisions of the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking of Access of Information by Public) Rules 2009 and in view of the emergent nature of threats has decided to block 118 mobile apps (see Appendix) since in view of the information available they are engaged in activities which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defense of India, the security of the state and public order,” the order from the ministry read.
In a statement worded almost exactly like the one it issued in June, when it banned 106 apps—first 59 and then 47—it said that it had several complaints that the applications were using the apps for data mining, and were “hostile to national security and defense of India, which ultimately impinges upon the sovereignty and integrity of India”.
“On the basis of these and upon receiving of recent credible inputs that information posted, permissions sought, functionality embedded as well as data harvesting practices of above-stated Apps raise serious concerns that the apps collect and share data in a surreptitious manner and compromise personal data and information of users that can have a severe threat to the security of the state,” the statement said.
“In the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, defense of India and security of the state, and using the sovereign powers, the Government of India has decided to block the usage of certain apps, used in both mobile and non-mobile Internet-enabled devices,” the statement said. “This move will safeguard the interests of crores of Indian mobile and Internet users. This decision is a targeted move to ensure safety, security, and sovereignty of Indian cyberspace.”
PUBG now has more than 600 million downloads and 50 million active players globally, not including the Chinese mainland where a rebranded version of the game is called ‘Game for Peace’. It has millions of users, especially among the young, in India.
The ban on PUBG came as it announced the arrival of a new gaming era with its 1.0 version, along with global mobile esports tournament PUBG Mobile Global Championship (PMGC) with a grand prize pool of $2 million (about Rs 15 crore).
The government said the 47 apps that it banned the second time were largely clones of the ones banned earlier.
The development takes the total number of apps banned so far to 224.
(Also Read: Difference Between PUBG Vs Call Of Duty)