Why Blue Whale game can't be banned, despite CM Devendra Fadnavis' assurance
Even as CM Devendra Fadnavis promises to block the Blue Whale game, which apparently led a Andheri-based teen to commit suicide, police continue to fumble in the dark
(Left) Advocate and cyber law expert Vicky Shah and cyber security expert Ritesh Bhatia
The Maharashtra government has decided to approach the Centre for a ban on the Blue Whale Challenge, but ensuring that, say cyber security experts, is going to be quite a challenge for the government too, owing to the game's mysteriousness and complexity and the fact that it isn't an app in itself that can be blocked or banned.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday had said in the Assembly that the state would approach the Centre to take measures to block the game's servers.
Also read: How the Blue Whale game brainwashes kids
Cyber experts believe that Blue Whale is not just another game easily downloadable from Playstore or any other app store and that it is, in fact, a community that has been inciting teenagers across the globe to commit suicide. The controllers of the Challenge are connected with each other through different chat rooms and contact teenagers with specific interests via social media platforms, luring them to play the game.
A mammoth task
Cyber security expert Ritesh Bhatia told mid-day, "In the Russian teenager's suicide, it was found that the community communicated via prominent social apps. If we want to ban the Challenge and stop it from entering the country, we need to control and monitor all social media platforms popular among youngsters. All searches need to be monitored by the ISPs and any access to websites that lead to the Challenge needs to be immediately blocked. The government can do all this, but vigilance is needed on part of parents too."
Experts believe that the Blue Whale Challenge isn't a game, but more like multiple dares, which an administrator or the controller gives the individual connected to him through a social media platform.
A Mumbai-based gaming expert, who did not wish to be named, said, "I have been reading about the Blue Whale Challenge for the past six months; there have been several suicides by teenagers in Russia. I have learned that the game has several other names too - Dark Room and Wake me up at 4:20 am. Once a person joins it, s/he is given challenges or dares. It begins with harming oneself and ends with suicide. To ban Blue Whale, it is necessary to find its links and community pages, and then, block their access to teenagers. This can be very difficult because we don't know which page has been made for the Challenge."
'Trace the source first'
Vicky Shah, an advocate, and cyber law expert said, "It is still a subject of an investigation if the Blue Whale is a software, a game or a chat room. If there is support from the gateway or ISP, only then is it possible to block the links. A complete ban, however, is impossible, as you can't really ensure a 100 per cent stop to Internet connectivity."
"First, one needs to know the source or server details; with that information, one can stop the spread of links. The country where the source has been found can share details with another country, for which the former needs details of the IP address. It's known that this game originated in Russia; but does it still exist there or has it migrated to other countries? It's a challenging task for the government, but not impossible," he added.
July 10, 2017
Posted by 16-year-old Texan Blue Whale player, a week before she killed herself
July 29, 2017
Pic posted by Manpreet Sahans, before he jumped off the sixth floor
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Blue Whale game: 13-year-old allegedly attempts suicide