India Blocks 118 More China-Linked Apps, Including PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds

Illustration for article titled India Blocks 118 More China-Linked Apps, Including iPlayerUnknowns Battlegrounds/i
Photo: BAY ISMOYO/AFP (Getty Images)

Months after barring TikTok, India is now cracking down on dozens more apps with links to China—the latest development in an ongoing feud between the two countries. This time, India’s banned multiple apps from Chinese tech giant Tencent, including mobile versions of the popular battle royale game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.

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India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said Wednesday that it had banned 118 apps for “stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorized manner to servers which have locations outside India”— behavior it said undermined national security. Included in the ban were PUBG MOBILE LITE and PUBG MOBILE Nordic Map: Livik, which are currently available in both Google Play and the App Store. Other apps barred included Alipay, Tencent Weiyun, and VPN for TikTok apps.

While PUBG proper is owned by South Korean company Bluehole, its mobile versions are published by Chinese giant Tencent, which also has partial ownership of Fortnite, full ownership of League of Legends, and significant stakes in companies as varied as Warner Music Group, Spotify, and Tesla.

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“In the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India and security of the State. And using the sovereign powers, the Government of India has decided to block the usage of certain Apps, used in both mobile and non-mobile Internet enabled devices,” the ministry said in a press release. “This move will safeguard the interests of crores of Indian mobile and internet users. This decision is a targeted move to ensure safety, security and sovereignty of Indian cyberspace.”

A spokesperson for PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds did not immediately return Gizmodo’s request for comment about the ban.

This week’s development follows a series of other bans by the Indian government of China-linked apps, including the immensely popular short-form video app TikTok. At the time, the company said that it “continues to comply with all data privacy and security requirements under Indian law and has not shared any information of our users in India with any foreign government.” TikTok was one of 59 apps barred in June, with an additional ban of 47 other apps following in July.

The ongoing bans follow an ongoing and escalating border dispute between the two countries. In June, a clash between the two nations left at least 20 Indian soldiers dead. In July, in a statement shared with CNN Business, a spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry in China called on India to “create a fair, just and non-discriminatory environment for economic and trade cooperation between China and India.”

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DISCUSSION

Is there someplace that lists just what data they are talking about?

If it’s the standard data that every app grabs from users, this is India being a shit towards its citizens as part of its ongoing issues with China. If there is something real going on, like GPS or MAC address tracking, maybe it’s about time something was said publicly. But first, let’s know what is being discussed.