India Blocks Krafton Game Over China Data Sharing Concerns: Source

India Blocks Krafton Game Over China Data Sharing Concerns: Source
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NEW DELHI/SEUL, July 29 (Reuters) – The Indian government has blocked a popular battle royale game from Krafton Inc. (259960.KS)a South Korean company backed by China’s Tencent (0700.HK)as it was concerned about sharing and extracting data in China, an Indian government source said.

New Delhi used the powers it has under India’s IT law to block Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI), building on a provision it has invoked since 2020 to ban several other Chinese apps on national security grounds, the government official said. and another source with direct knowledge.

The Indian government has not publicly announced the lockdown. But the app was removed from Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL.O) Google Play Store and Apple Inc. (AAPL.O) App Store starting Thursday night in India.

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The removal of BGMI, which had more than 100 million users in India, comes after the South Asian country banned another Krafton title, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG), in 2020.

The PUBG crackdown was part of New Delhi’s ban on more than 100 mobile apps of Chinese origin, following a months-long border standoff between the nuclear-armed rivals.

The ban has since been expanded to cover more than 300 apps, including the popular gaming app ‘Free Fire’, owned by Singaporean tech group Sea Ltd. (SE.N).

Tencent held a 13.5% stake in Krafton at the end of March through an investment vehicle, according to Krafton’s regulatory filing.

Krafton shares fell more than 9% after Friday’s news, then trimmed losses to close down 4.5% in Seoul. The company said in May that India accounted for a high single-digit percentage of its revenue in the first quarter of this year.

Shares of Tencent Holdings fell 4.9% to their lowest level since March 15.

A Google spokesman said it blocked the game following a government directive, while the Indian IT Ministry and Apple did not respond to requests for comment. The sources declined to be named as such orders are confidential.

The Chinese embassy in New Delhi did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In Seoul, a spokesman for Krafton said the developer was talking to the relevant authorities and companies to find out the exact situation regarding the suspension of India’s two major app stores.

Krafton India CEO Sean Hyunil Sohn told the TechCrunch news portal earlier this week that the Indian government had previously noted that PUBG and BGMI are different games, adding that “BGMI complies with all guidelines” in India. .


India invoked a section of its IT law, called 69A, to enforce the ban, the two sources with direct knowledge told Reuters.

The section allows the government to block public access to content in the interest of national security, among other reasons. Orders issued under the section are generally confidential in nature.

Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) and the non-profit organization Prahar had repeatedly called on the government to investigate BGMI’s “Chinese influence”, Prahar chairman Abhay Mishra said. SJM is the economic wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, an influential Hindu nationalist group close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party.

“In the so-called new avatar, the BGMI was no different from the old PUBG with Tencent still controlling it in the background,” Mishra said.

The ban sparked strong online reactions from popular gamers in India on Twitter and YouTube.

“I hope our government understands that the lives of thousands of esports athletes and content creators depend on BGMI,” tweeted Abhijeet Andhare, a Twitter user with more than 92,000 followers.

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Reporting by Aditya Kalra and Munsif Vengattil in New Delhi, Joyce Lee in Seoul; Additional reporting by Nupur Anand; Edited by Kirsten Donovan, Clarence Fernandez, and Muralikumar Anantharaman

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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