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PUBG pulls India rights from China-based Tencent Games after ban

Tencent confirmed that PUBG Corp would take on the responsibilities of publishing the mobile game in India, news agency Reuters reported. “Our existing cooperation with PUBG Corporation in global markets other than India is not affected,” Tencent said in a statement, according to Reuters.

BattleGrounds (PUBG), a popular gaming app, was banned by the ministry of electronics and information technology, the South Korean operator of the app has pulled its franchise from Tencent Holdings Ltd in India, apparently seeking to distance itself from the China-based company .

“In light of recent developments, PUBG Corporation has made the decision to no longer authorize 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.

Hindustan Times on September 2 reported that the Indian government has banned PUBG, along with 118 other mobile applications with links to China, citing 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) said.

Tencent confirmed that PUBG Corp would take on the responsibilities of publishing the mobile game in India, news agency Reuters reported. “Our existing cooperation with PUBG Corporation in global markets other than India is not affected,” Tencent said in a statement, according to Reuters.

The move was seen as being aimed at Chinese technology giants such as Tencent Holdings, 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 ordered by the government in the wake of the increased military tensions between India and China at the Line of Actual Control (LAC). IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had called the move a :”digital strike on China.”

This is a business call,” an IT ministry official (CHECK) said, asking not to be named.

The official added that there is no question of revoking the ban until the government is satisfied that all its concerns have been addressed.

“The reasons and grounds on which the ban has been imposed go way beyond ownership,” said this person. “Unless those concerns are addressed, {there is no} no reason to revoke the ban. The larger issues remain that of data privacy, data security and the information that the apps are collecting from users. We have sent 70-odd questions to the blocked apps, we will review them and respond.”

The government is also going through the answers provided by the 59 apps banned in the first round, including TikTok, and the 47 mirror apps banned in the second. All the app operators will also be given a chance to make their case in front of a panel which is yet to begin hearing their representations.

PUBG’s statement said that the ‘corporation fully understands and respects the measures taken by the government as the privacy and security of player data is a top priority for the company.”

“It hopes to work hand-in-hand with the Indian government to find a solution that will allow gamers to once again drop into the battlegrounds while being fully compliant with Indian laws and regulations,” said the statement. “As the company explores ways to provide its own PUBG experience for India in the near future, it is committed to doing so by sustaining a localized and healthy gameplay environment for its fans.”

India accounts for over a quarter of PUBG Mobile’s lifetime installs though revenues from the country are still minuscule, a Bloomberg report said, citing data from research firm Sensor Tower. PUBG had seen its user numbers rocket in India as the coronavirus disease-related lockdown boosted gaming.

The banned versions of PUBG include PUBG Mobile Lite, a leaner version of the app suited to inexpensive smartphones, as well as PUBG Mobile Nordic Map: Livik, a newer game played in Nordic terrain.

According to Raman Jit Singh Chima, lawyer and Asia Pacific policy director at Access Now, a digital rights advocacy group, the government is citing law and order and data protection as grounds for an economic decision. “Normally, countries criminally charge a firm for violating data privacy and not block the services,” said Chima.

“PUBG’s actions seem to indicate that they are hopeful that the government may reinstate the application now. If we look at the US, they are clear on the fact that their move against Tencent is an economic one and aims to restrict its activities; they have not banned PUBG,” he added.

Source
Hindustan times
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