Will India ban PUBG, AliExpress? What we know so far
India is reportedly planning to examine 275 Chinese apps, including the gaming app PUBG and online shopping portal AliExpress, for violations of privacy and national security. According to Economic Times, the list includes PUBG, backed by China’s most valuable internet major Tencent, Zili by phonemaker Xiaomi, AliExpress by ecommerce giant Alibaba, as well as apps like Resso and ULike from TikTok owner ByteDance. If found guilty of the charges, these apps could face the axe.
This follows India's move last month to ban 59 mobile applications with Chinese links, including popular apps like TikTok and UC Browser, accusing them of being "prejudicial to sovereignty, integrity and security of the country".
There is debate over whether PUBG can be considered a Chinese app, however. The game was originally designed by Irish developer Brendan ‘PlayerUnknown’ Greene, of DayZ: Battle Royale fame. Its PC version was designed by a firm that is a subsidiary of a South Korean company named Bluehole. While PUBG was initially known as a PC game, it was ported to mobile by Chinese firm Tencent.
However, PUBG: Mobile did not receive regulatory approval to be monetised in China, prompting its developers to create a more “patriotic” game that could rake in revenues. PUBG: Mobile went on to release worldwide as a free-to-play game, garnering over 600 million downloads.
As the world’s largest videogame company, Tencent also has shareholders from around the world. Prosus, which owns the single largest stake in the company at 31 per cent, is a portfolio manager that comes under the South African e-commerce group Naspers. Hua Teng Ma, who founded Tencent, has an 8.43 per cent stake.
While banning the 59 apps, the ministry had invoked its power under section 69A of the Information Technology Act and the relevant provisions of the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking of Access of Information by Public) Rules 2009.
“There have been raging concerns on aspects relating to data security and safeguarding the privacy of 130 crore Indians. It has been noted recently that such concerns also pose a threat to sovereignty and security of our country,” the statement said, adding that the ministry had received many complaints from various sources.