PUBG among 118 Chinese apps banned

IT Ministry action comes amid continued standoff with Beijing

PUBG among 118 Chinese apps banned

For representation only.

New Delhi, September 2

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.

PUBG, CamCard, Baidu, Cut Cut, VooV, Tencent Weiyun, Rise of Kingdoms, and Zakzak were among 118 apps that the Information Technology Ministry  banned on Wednesday. The latest list also includes mobile applications such as Learn Chinese AI, Hi Meitu, VPN for TikTok, Beauty Camera Plus, along with a host of gaming apps.

Also read: PUBG ban in India: Parents happy, youth ‘shocked’

The action is seen as 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 information available they are engaged in activities which is prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of 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 defence 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 surreptitious manner and compromise personal data and information of users that can have a severe threat to security of the state," the statement said.

"In the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India and security of 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.  

'Milestone' 

Welcoming the ban, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) said the move is "a major milestone step against misdeeds of China and will certainly boost the morale of the country." CAIT National President B C Bhartia and Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal said banning more Chinese apps was necessary as they "were always a threat to country's safety, security and sovereignty as also for the protection of individual data these apps were accruing through their usages."

Also, "Apps like PUBG were spoiling the next generation as more and more people of India were consuming their more time on PUBG and other apps," they were quoted as saying in a CAIT press statement. 

Here’s the full press statement

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 118mobile apps (see Appendix) since in view of information available they are engaged in activities which is prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order

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 platforms for stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users' data in an unauthorized manner to servers which have locations outside India. The compilation of the data, its mining and profiling by elements hostile to national security and defence of India, which ultimately impinges upon the sovereignty and integrity of India, is a matter of very deep and immediate concern which requires emerge, measures.

The Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre, Ministry of Home Affairs has also sent an exhaustive recommendation for blocking these malicious app. Likewise, there have been similar bipartisan concerns, flagged by various public representatives, both outside and inside the Parliament of India. There has been a strong chorus in the public space to take strict action against apps that harm India's sovereignty as well as the privacy of our citizens.

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 surreptitious manner and compromise personal data and information of users that can have a severe threat to security of the State.

In the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India and security of 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. These apps are listed in the attached appendix. 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.

See list below for banned apps 

  ---With agencies

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