[Update] June 21st, 2021: Praveen Khandelwal, National Secretary General, CAIT has written to Union IT & Communication Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad demanding a Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI) ban. In the same letter, Khandelwal has asked Google India to not allow the game on Play Store.
No one can circumvent India’s law. Must known to #battlegroundmobileindia which is nothing but another version of #PUBG .@CAITIndia urge Shri @rsprasad to take immediate note & ban #battlegroundmobile & @GoogleIndia not to allow use of its play store @Suhelseth @indiantweeter pic.twitter.com/30Jl7pdV2z
— Praveen Khandelwal (@praveendel) June 18, 2021
Battlegrounds Mobile India, the relaunched version of PUBG Mobile India, will be officially available soon. Ahead of its release, the early access APK of the battle royale game has already arrived on the Google Play Store. While there’s high-interest in the game, there are reports that BGMI will be banned in India before the launch.
The rumours of the Battlegrounds Mobile India ban have been circulating even before the game was announced for the Indian market. Since Battlegrounds Mobile India shares a lot of commonalities with its predecessor, PUBG Mobile India, critics have been at task. Add to this, PUBG Mobile India users will be able to migrate their data to BGMI, which could raise further questions. Read on to know the government’s official stance on the ban.
Will Battlegrounds Mobile India be banned?
As part of my research on predatory practise of Chinese companies in India and it's impact on National Security, had filed an RTI about the relaunch of PUBG Mobile in India by Krafton (in which the Chinese behemoth has the second largest stake). pic.twitter.com/WL5rkThdOb
— Dr Gaurav Tyagi (@drtyagigaurav) June 13, 2021
Whether Battlegrounds Mobile India will be banned in India has received a response from none other than the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). The response came after Dr Gaurav Tyagi, an assistant professor at JNU, filed an RTI regarding the ban on Battlegrounds Mobile India.
The ministry has clarified that it cannot stop the game from launching in India. However, the ministry has clarified that it can ban the game once it becomes available. In other words, the government has clarified that it cannot ban something that has not been launched officially in India yet. However, once Battlegrounds Mobile India becomes officially available, it will come under review immediately.
The provisions of section 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 allows the ministry to ban the game post its launch. “The Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology has no role in granting any permission for entry of PUBG or any company/Mobile app in India,” the IT ministry said in response to the RTI.
“MHA does not grant permission for launching any app. Meity issues blocking direction for any mobile applications under the provisions of section 69A of the Information Technology Act,2000 and its rules namely the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking for Access of Information for Public) Rules, 2009, in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, security of state and defence of India etc. Regarding vii, CPIO is not supposed to provide opinion under RTI Act,” the Ministry of Home Affairs said in response to the RTI.
PUBG Mobile India was a high flying game in the country before its wings were cut off by the government. The government banned the game in India under security grounds and stated that the app is engaged in activities that are “prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity, defence and security of the country”.
In order to ensure smooth launch of Battlegrounds Mobile India, the game developer has cut ties with Tencent, which was the publisher for the game in India. The new version of PUBG Mobile in India is being launched by Korean developer Krafton, which has filed for an IPO in South Korea recently. The government has also clarified that it has not given any specific permission for the relaunch.
The pre-registration for the game began on May 18th and is expected to become widely available by the end of this month. At the time of announcing its comeback as Battlegrounds Mobile India, Krafton confirmed that it will adhere to all security requirements. With its Chinese ties cut off, the game should not really have trouble getting approved in the country.
In addition to the changes, Krafton has promised to make big ticket investments in India. It has also promised some changes to the new game specifically for India, and one such change is the use of green colour instead of red to symbolise blood. While these changes might seem trivial, they could help the game avoid a ban in the country.