Battlegrounds Mobile India, Indian version of PUBG taken down

The government decided to ban popular battle royale game Battle Grounds Mobile India (BGMI) on concerns that data of Indians was both being transferred abroad and mined as well, sources told ET.

The app was blocked under Section 69A of the IT Act, they added.

BGMI was created specifically for the Indian market and published here by South Korean gaming company Krafton Inc after the government banned PUBG Mobile – published by Chinese internet firm Tencent – in 2020, as part of larger curbs on over 200 Chinese apps, including popular short-video app TikTok.

Soon after BGMI was launched last year, concerns had been raised about the app sending data to servers in China. At that time, Krafton had said that this was not in violation of its privacy policy.

“Similar to other global mobile games and apps, Battlegrounds Mobile India also uses third-party solutions to provide unique game features. In the process of using these solutions, some game data was shared to third parties,” it had said then.

Tencent is a shareholder in Krafton, and the latest ban came about over national security concerns.

Section 69A of the IT Act allows the government to restrict access to any intermediaries or content in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of the country, security of the state and friendly relations with foreign states or for public order.

A spokesperson for Krafton said the company would put out a statement once there was greater clarity on the government order.

“Since February this year, we have raised the fact that BGMI and the banned PUBG are one and the same. In the so-called new avatar, the BGMI was no different from erstwhile PUBG with Tencent still controlling it in the background,” said Abhay Mishra, president of Prahar, a non-profit organisation working in the area of socioeconomic development.

Prahar had written to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) to block BGMI under under Section 69A, as it posed a threat to the sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of the state, and public order.

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