PUBG Mobile banned in India amid 118 app government crackdown

Chris Davies - Sep 2, 2020, 8:40am CDT
PUBG Mobile banned in India amid 118 app government crackdown

PUBG Mobile has been banned in India, a huge blow to the incredibly popular game, as part of the government’s increasing crack-down on mobile apps connected to China. Today’s ban – which affects 118 apps in total – extends a June 2020 decision by the Indian Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology that saw TikTok and WeChat impacted.

At the time, the Ministry said it had banned the software based on “the emergent nature of threats.” 59 apps were blocked, “since in view of information available they are engaged in activities which is prejudicial to [the] sovereignty and integrity of India, defense of India, security of state and public order.”

Some predicted that push-back from users and developers alike would force the Ministry to soften its stance. Instead, it has ramped up its preemptive attack on Chinese-connected software. Today’s 118 app block list not only includes PUBG Mobile, but Baidu, WeChat Work, and Alipay.

It also includes other apps from Tencent, Marvel Super War NetEase Games, and two apps which had promised VPN connections to TikTok to circumnavigate the June ban.

According to the government announcement, there have been complaints about apps connected to China or Chinese developers stealing or monitoring user data. “The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has received many complaints from various sources including several reports about misuse of some mobile apps available on Android and iOS platforms for stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorized manner to servers which have locations outside India,” the Ministry explains.

“The compilation of these data, its mining and profiling by elements hostile to national security and defense of India,” the Ministry continues, “which ultimately impinges upon the sovereignty and integrity of India, is a matter of very deep and immediate concern which requires emergency measures.”

It’s unexpected bad news for PUBG, which had been having a reasonably good week until now. Indeed Apple’s App Store had promoted PUBG Mobile, a move which was widely interpreted as a snub against Fortnite developer Epic Games. Epic and Apple are currently embroiled in a battle over App Store fees, which has seen Fortnite pulled from the App Store for iOS devices. That was expected to give PUBG Mobile more of an opportunity to grow in Fortnite’s absence.

The full list of banned apps being added to the block list in India is below. Tencent is yet to comment on the Indian Ministry’s decision.

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