Ban on Chinese apps: Why PUBG, Call of Duty not banned?

Updated: Jul 02, 2020, 17:01 IST | mid-day online correspondent | Mumbai

The biggest question doing the rounds is why PUBG (PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds) or the Call of Duty Mobile battle royale game did not find any mention in the list of banned apps?

PUBG did not feature in the banned list due to its mixed ownership
PUBG did not feature in the banned list due to its mixed ownership

The recent ban by the Indian government on 59 Chinese apps in India has raised several questions on the Internet. Out of the 59 banned apps, some popular ones included apps like TikTok, ShareIt, UC browser, and Cam Scanner.

However, the biggest question doing the rounds is why PUBG (PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds) or the Call of Duty Mobile battle royale game did not find any mention in the list of banned apps?

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also quit the Chinese microblogging website Sina Weibo, which he had joined a few years ago. His account went blank after his profile photo, posts, and comments were removed from the handle.

Why PUBG was not banned?

PUBG did not feature in the banned list due to its mixed ownership, since it’s not entirely Chinese. The game is created and managed by Bluehole, a South Korean organisation. After PUBG became popular, Tencent, a Chinese conglomerate, joined hands with Bluehole to market the product in China and started handling a large portion of its distribution. The game is distributed in India by Tencent Holdings.

Pakistan Temporarily Suspends PUBG Game

Why Call of Duty Mobile was not banned?

Call of Duty Mobile is the mobile version of the famous video game series 'Call of Duty'. The game received massive response during beta testing, as well as when it was released. It has still not been banned in India and users continue to play the game on Android and iOS.

COD Mobile is developed by an American tech company called Activision Blizzard in partnership with Tencent Game, the company behind PUBG Mobile and Timi. Tencent Holdings also has 5 per cent ownership in Activision Blizzard.

Though the games have Chinese links, its mixed-ownership could have played a role in the government's decision to not add PUBG or COD to its list of banned apps.

Stating that these apps posed a threat to India’s data security breach, the Ministry of Information Technology invoked its power under "section 69A of the Information Technology Act read with relevant provisions of the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking of Access of Information by Public) Rules 2009" to ‘safeguard the interests of crores of Indian mobile and internet users’.

Is app ban enough?

According to experts, India’s app ban is not enough to tactically address long-term information threat from China as the implementation of this ban will be difficult. Though Google Play Store and Apple Play Store have blocked the download of these apps, there are several unauthorised app stores where these applications will be available.

Another problem in the way of blocking these apps is the already downloaded applications that can be used via Virtual Private Networks (VPNs).

New opportunity for startups

Giving a clear signal for greater support to startups working towards enriching the digital universe, IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Wednesday that while Indians download a lot of apps from Google Play Store and Apple App Store, it is time to upload some.

Taking part in a virtual event to mark five years of the "Digital India" initiative, he encouraged Indian entrepreneurs to make products for the world. "You know you have a supportive government. If any of you need any concrete help, do reach out," he said, addressing the startup community.

(With inputs from agencies)

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