The central government’s electronics and information technology department has informed the Telangana High Court that it banned the PUBG gaming app in India after following the due process laid down under Information Technology Act, 2000. The center was responding to directions from the High Court seeking its stand on a plea to ban Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI) – an Indian customized version of PUBG launched in July last year. The government said it has no pending request from any of the states to ban BGMI.
A bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Abhinand Kumar Shavili is hearing a petition seeking permanent prohibition of BGMI in India. The case sought the issuance of a writ of Mandamus directing to prohibit both computer and mobile versions of BGMI. The plea also sought directions to the central government and Telangana government to establish an online games safety rating agency and to frame rules to regulate the online games in order to screen them to prevent adverse impacts on social health. While the plea prays for banning the desktop version, there is no desktop version of BGMI!
Krafton, the original developer of the game relaunched the game as BGMI in July 2021after incorporating a local company based in Bengaluru. Krafton partnered with Microsoft Azure to ensure personal data protection through the latter’s platform. According to reports, the gaming company has committed to investing more than $100 million in the startup ecosystem in India. In the last 10 months, the company has announced six deals totaling about $86 million across segments. It intends to duplicate its India strategy in other emerging markets.
When listed for hearing on 30 November 2021, the Assistant Solicitor General has accepted the notice on behalf of the central government. The matter was again listed on 28 January, the counsel for the central government sought six weeks time to file the counter affidavit. The matter will now be heard by the Telangana High Court on 14 March 2022.
PUBG is one of the games listed in the medal category of Asian Games scheduled from September 10th to September 25th, 2022. The Games will be hosted in Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China. The list of titles announced in September includes the names of FIFA, Dota 2, and League of Legends.
Interestingly, a similar petition has been filed across the border in Lahore, Pakistan. A petition seeking a ban on the online game, PUBG, in Pakistan in the wake of incidents of violence and killings involving youngsters fond of the game was filed with Lahore High Court on January 30. India’s eastern neighbor, Bangladesh has banned PubG and Free fire in August 2021 after a direction from the High Court of Bangladesh to shut down the dangerous and harmful apps and software on the internet for three months.