The Indian government has ordered Google and Apple to block the popular battle royale game BattleGrounds India, aka BGMI. South Korea’s Krafton is developer of the popular gaming app. While Krafton has confirmed that the game has been delisted from Google Play Store and Apple App store after the government order, so far there is no clarity on why the game has actually been banned.
Now a report in IANS quoting sources claims that the BGMI gaming app has been banned under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000. The Section 69A of the Information Technology Act is used to restrict access to any content in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of the country, security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states or public order. This is the same act that was used to order a ban on PUBG in September 2020. The 270-plus Chinese apps blocked in India since June 2020 have been banned under the same Act.
“The Government is committed to protect the interests of citizens and sovereignty and integrity of India on all fronts and it shall take all possible steps to ensure that,” read a government statement then. The order further said that the ministry of electronics and information technology (MeitY) has issued the order for blocking the access of these apps by users in India based on the comprehensive reports received from Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Center, ministry of home affairs.
Following the ban on PUBG, Krafton officially cut its ties with Tencent in India. Krafton announced the launch of the BGMI game in May 2021. The game was finally released on July 2 with almost similar game play. Krafton’s India bet too seems to be paying as in a span of just a year BGMI has surpassed 100 million registered users in India.
Demand to ban BGMI under Section 69A
In February this year, PRAHAR, a non-profit organisation (NGO), working in the area of socio-economic development, had written a letter to the government asking for a ban on BGMI under the same section (69A of the Information Technology Act). In the letter, the NGO said that the app needs to be banned as it poses a threat to the sovereignty and integrity of India. It claimed that Krafton is a front company of China’s leading internet company Tencent Holdings. It further added that Tencent is the second-largest shareholder of Krafton with 15.5% stocks.
PRAHAR has welcomed the ban on BGMI. Since February this year, we have raised the fact that BGMI and the banned PUBG are one and the same. In the so-called new avatar, the BGMI was no different from erstwhile PUBG with Tencent still controlling it in the background,” Abhay Mishra, President of Prahar, said in a statement. “We are grateful to the government for taking this step in the interest of security and sovereignty of India,” he added.