A central intelligence agency report and letter from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity) caused a ban on the popular battle royale game Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI).
The report discussed infractions that can cause cyber dangers by harvesting user data for profiling in order to carry out targeted cyberattacks on Indian users. These violations can occur when user data is harvested for profiling.
According to a high-ranking official in the government, the application has a number of problems, the most significant of which is that it communicates with servers that are either directly or indirectly situated in China.
A number of sources have also confirmed that additional apps that have undergone a “rebranding” process are connecting with servers located in China and are being investigated.
Following many iterations of investigation by Indian government entities, the decision was made to submit a request to Google requesting that the program be removed from the Play Store.
“The analysis also showed that this application has malicious code and also acquires a host of critical permissions,” a senior government official told News18 on the condition of anonymity. “This application could be misused for compromising user data for surveillance through camera/microphone, location tracking, and malicious network activities,” the official said. “The analysis also showed that this application acquires a host of critical permissions.”
“Apps like these are harmful to India’s sovereignty and integrity, and they pose a significant threat to the country’s national security infrastructure.” According to an official who works in Meity, who spoke to News18, “the inputs were shared with us, and prompt action was done without any delay from the administration.”
Although the official order to prohibit BGMI in India has not yet been issued, Meity has already begun the process by requesting that the software be removed from app shops such as Google Play.
After this, the firm will offer its side of the argument, and then the judge will make a final determination regarding the total ban.
The game’s developer, Krafton, has stated that it is actively striving to revive the project. The organization recently released a statement in which it stated that it is dedicated to the Indian market and is optimistic about the possibilities that exist in the country.
“Here at KRAFTON, protecting the personal information of our customers and respecting their right to privacy are two of our highest priorities. We have always been in compliance with all of the rules and regulations in India, including the laws and regulations governing the protection of personal information, and we will continue to adhere to them.
In the meantime, Google has confirmed that the company has been given an official order to remove the game from its platform by the authorities.
“On receipt of the order, following the established process, we have notified the affected developer and have blocked access to the app that remained available on Play Store in India,” it said. “On receipt of the order, we have blocked access to the app that remained available on Play Store in India.”
Is REBRANDING an option?
According to senior officials who are responsible for analyzing these applications, illegal Chinese apps have been renamed in India despite the fact that there is not a single server located in the country .
“These apps have re-launched in India simply like old wine in a new bottle, but they didn’t install any servers in India,” the company said in a statement. Additionally, they capture data like as location, audio, and access to other sensitive information, all of which have the potential to be exploited.
According to a senior government source, “BGMI is likewise a rebranded version of PUBG.” Even earlier, the government had prohibited the use of a few Chinese applications, which were afterwards renamed and distributed under new brand names.
The government of China, working through its many agencies, maintains a close watch on Chinese mobile applications and performs periodic evaluations on them.
Chinese mobile applications that, according to the government, breach a variety of Indian laws have been subject to a steady stream of bans. As cross-border tensions remain high, the Indian government decided to prohibit 54 new Chinese-made apps in February of this year, citing the fact that these apps represent a “threat to India’s security.”
The vast majority of them were imitations of apps that had been prohibited by the government in the wake of the conflict in Galwan Valley, but which had since been renamed and reintroduced in India in a stealthy manner.
The addition of 54 additional restricted apps brings the total to 324, including Tik Tok and PUBG (earlier version), which had to partner with Chinese enterprises due to the ban in India.