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Barely a week after PlayerUnknown’s BattleGrounds (PUBG), an online multiplayer gaming application (app) developed and published by PUBG Corporation, a subsidiary of South Korean video game company Bluehole, was banned by the Union Ministry of Information and Technology, the firm has pulled its India franchise from Chinese conglomerate Tencent.
“In light of recent developments, PUBG Corporation has made the decision to no longer authorise the PUBG Mobile franchise to Tencent Games in India. Moving forward, PUBG Corporation will take on all publishing responsibilities within the country,” PUBG said in a statement.
HT on September 2 had reported that PUBG, along with 118 mobile apps that have links with China, was banned because there were reports that these apps were “stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorised manner”.
The government said these apps promoted activities “prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order”.
“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,” the ministry of electronics and information technology (Meity) had said. The was viewed as targeting some of China’s technology giants such as Tencent Holdings Ltd; the country’s search engine leader Baidu Inc; Xiaomi’s ShareSave; and online payments giant Ant Group Co’’s platform Alipay.
PUBG was banned in the third round of blocks done by the government in the wake of the increased tensions between India and China along the disputed Line of Actual Control (LAC).
Union Minister for communications, electronics and information technology Ravi Shankar Prasad had called the decision a “digital strike on China”.
“This is a business call,” said an official, who did not wish to be named.
However, the official added that there was no question of revoking the ban until the government was satisfied that all its concerns have been addressed.
“The reasons and grounds on which the ban has been imposed go beyond ownership,” said the official. “Unless those concerns are addressed, there is no reason to revoke the ban. The larger issues are data privacy and security and the information that the apps are collecting from users. We have sent 70-odd questions to the blocked apps and asked them to review and respond.”
The government is already going through the answers to the questions provided by the 59 apps banned earlier and the 47 mirror apps banned in the second round. It will also be analysing the response