Once again, the Indian government has placed a ban on some mobile apps available to users in the country, some of which are operated in China. This time, up to 348 mobile applications were banned. The reasons include the unauthorized transmission of users’ data overseas. This was revealed by the Minister of State for Electronics and Information technology, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, in the Lok Sabha.
According to the Minister, the blocked apps were transmitting users’ information to abroad servers for profiling. He further mentioned that the ban was based on the request from the MHA. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology affected the block as the data transmission infringes the integrity and sovereignty of India, security of the state, and defense of India.
This ban has come into place a few days after Google Play Store removed Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI), a battle royale game developed by Krafton, a South Korean gaming company. As of July 28, the app also became unavailable on the Apple App Store in India.
BGMI was developed specifically for Indians in July 2021, as a result of the banned PUBG Mobile by the Chinese popular tech firm Tencent. PUBG was banned in 2020, alongside 200 other apps, including the popular video-sharing platform, TikTok. According to reports, Tencent held a 13.5% stake in the South Korean company through an investment vehicle.
In July 2022, Krafton claimed that BGMI has registered over 100 million users in India. According to estimates by App Intelligence company, Sensor Tower, the app clocked about USD 33 million in-app spending from July 2021 (when it was launched) to July 2022.
While other gaming and social apps are being banned, it has been a different situation with mobile casino apps. On the contrary, mobile casino online has continued to increase in popularity among Indians. However, it should be noted that casino apps were never really available to Indians on the Google Play store or Apple App Store. They had to be downloaded directly from the casino website. Nevertheless, with the Indian government considering regulations for online casino gaming, these apps might soon be available on application stores.
On February 14, this year, the popular battle royale game Free Fire by Garena was also banned with 53 other Chinese-related mobile applications under section 69A of the Information Technology Act, citing security reasons. Garena is the gaming section of Singapore-based tech company Sea Limited.