- PUBG MOBILE is a popular online multiplayer shooting game
- The move is in interest of our sovereignty and integrity, government says
- Tencent's PUBG Mobile ranks among the world's top five smartphone games
PUBG MOBILE, a wildly popular online multiplayer shooting game, is among 118 Chinese apps blocked by the government Wednesday amid tension over fresh Chinese provocation in Ladakh. The move is in the interest of India's sovereignty and integrity, defence and security, the government said in a statement.
Tencent's PUBG Mobile ranks among the world's top five smartphone games with over 734 million downloads. There are close to 50 million active PUBG players in India, according to reports and the game clocks in some 13 million daily users.
According to the IT Ministry, the Apps "are engaged in activities which are prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order".
"This decision is a targeted move to ensure safety, security and sovereignty of Indian cyberspace," the statement said, adding that the move would safeguard the interests of crores of Indian mobile and internet users.
PUBG or PlayerUnknown's BattleGrounds, features a Hunger Games-style competition in which 100 players face off with automatic weapons until there is only one left. Tencent introduced a stripped-down mobile version, which had the game skyrocketing, especially in the time of the coronavirus lockdown.
In a measure of PUBG's huge popularity in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during an event on exam stress last year, had remarked to a mother complaining about her teen: "Yeh PUBG-wala hai kya (Is he a PUBG player?)".
In June, the government banned 59 mobile apps including Bytedance's TikTok, Alibaba's UC Browser and Tencent's WeChat, also citing security concerns.
Explaining its latest move, the ministry said it had received many complaints about the misuse of some mobile apps on Android and iOS platforms for stealing and surreptitiously transmitting user data to servers outside India.
"The compilation of these data, its mining and profiling by elements hostile to national security and defence of India, which ultimately impinges upon the sovereignty and integrity of India, is a matter of very deep and immediate concern which requires emergency measures," said the statement.
The home ministry's cybercrime centre had also recommended blocking these "malicious apps", the government said.
The statement referred to bipartisan concerns flagged in parliament and outside and a strong chorus to take strict action against Apps "that harm India's sovereignty as well as the privacy of our citizens".
The other Apps blocked include games, online payment services, dating sites and software to edit selfies.
The move comes a day after the government accused Chinese troops of provocative action again in the South Bank of Ladakh's Pangong Lake. Chinese troops had made a similar attempt on August 31 but Indian soldiers were able to thwart them both times, the government said.
There have been a series of clashes and showdowns in Ladakh with China since May. In June, 20 soldiers died for the country in a clash at Galwan Valley. China also suffered casualties but has not revealed the number.