India government on Wednesday banned 118 apps, including the popular PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) Mobile, Baidu and several VPNs that allowed access to TikTok that was earlier banned.
The action came after the fresh Chinese incursion attempts in Indian territory at Pangong Tso in eastern Ladakh.
The PUBG game now has more than 600 million downloads and 50 million active players globally, not including the Chinese mainland where a re-branded version of the game is called Game for Peace.
Media reports said desktop customers can still use PUBG on their PCs because the ban is on mobile version only. The mobile version of PUBG is managed by China-based Tencent and the desktop version of PUBG is managed by a company South Korea.
PUBG has millions of users, especially young, in India. The ban is a blow for Tencent in India whose PUBG, a battle royale game, is a smash-hit in the country. India ranks No.1 in the world in terms of PUBG downloads, accounting for roughly 175 million installs, or 24 percent of the total, apps analytics firm SensorTower says.
India’s technology ministry said the apps were a threat to India’s sovereignty and security.
These apps collect and share data in a surreptitious manner and compromise personal data and information of users that can have a threat to the security of the state,” the ministry said in a statement.
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.
Earlier, the government barred 47 Chinese apps from operating in the country, which were largely clones of the previously 59 apps banned in June.
On June 29, the government banned 59 Chinese apps, including TikTok, WeChat and UC Browser and Xiaomi’s Mi Community over national security concerns amid the border tussle in Ladakh.
“These measures have been undertaken since there is credible information that these apps are engaged in activities which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order,” the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology statement had said.
According to the ministry, the move would safeguard the interests of hundreds of thousands of Indian mobile users.
Other Chinese apps in the banned list were Club Factory, SHAREit, Likee, Mi Video Call (Xiaomi), Weibo, Baidu, BIGO LIVE and more.