India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has announced a list of 118 mobile apps and games being banned for engaging in “activities which is prejudicial to [the] sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order.” The press release contains the full list of titles, one of which is the mobile version of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.
According to the Ministry, a number of complaints have been received regarding apps “stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorized manner to servers which have locations outside India.” Among the list of titles banned are several games published by Tencent and NetEase. This marks the second wave of app bans following a previous tranche of 59 mobile titles, which were banned in the wake of a border skirmish between Chinese and Indian troops near the Himalayas.
While the mobile version of PUBG has been banned, the PC and console versions of the game have not, owing to their being run by the PUBG Corporation based out of South Korea. It’s also not the first time PUBG Mobile has been banned in India. Last year, four cities in the Indian state of Gujarat banned the game for reportedly provoking violent behavior among young people and distracting students from their studies.
Food For Thought
While the list does not explicitly say that the apps in question are Chinese in origin, Ministry retweets of news reports which do make that link are troubling. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping both seem to be stoking nationalist sentiments in their respective countries, each of them doubtlessly believing that they can turn up the pressure on their opponent without it flaring up into a broader conflict.
How China responds to this particular action will be telling. However, its recent moves regarding the upcoming sale of TikTok’s American operations suggests they are not likely to be taking a calm and measured response.