As e-sports flourish in India, mobile gaming platforms and apps have contributed massively to this boom. The wave of online mobile gaming has led to a new recognition of esports. As we see the Sports Ministry being very proactive for e-sports and e-athletes, it is pertinent to ensure that we do not compromise our cyber security for the sake of these games. When we talk about online mobile gaming, the most common names that come to our minds are PUBG and BGMI. As news for all Indian gamers, BGMI is set to be relaunched in India after approval from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.
Why was BGMI banned?
The Govt banned Battle Ground Mobile India on the pretext of being a Chinese application and the fact that all the data was hosted in China itself. This caused a cascade of compliance and user safety issues as the Data was stored outside India. Since 2020 The Indian Govt has been proactive in banning Chinese applications, which might have an adverse effect on national security and Indian citizens. Nearly 200 plus applications have been banned by the Govt, and most of them were banned due to their data hubs being in China. The issue of cross-border data flow has been a key issue in Geo-Politics, and whoever hosts the data virtually owns it as well and under the potential threat of this fact, all apps hosting their data in China were banned.
Why is BGMI coming back?
BGMI was banned for not hosting data in India, and since the ban, the Krafton Inc.-owned game has been engaging in Idnai to set up data banks and servers to have a separate gaming server for Indian players. These moves will lead to a safe gaming ecosystem and result in better adherence to the laws and policies of the land. The developers have not declared a relaunch date yet, but the game is expected to be available for download for iOS and Android users in the coming few days. The game will be back on app stores as a letter from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has been issued stating that the games be allowed and made available for download on the respective app stores.
Grounds for BGMI
BGMI has to ensure that they comply with all the laws, policies and guidelines in India and have to show the same to the Ministry to get an extension on approval. The game has been permitted for only 90 days (3 Months). Hon’ble MoS Meity Rajeev Chandrashekhar stated in a tweet “This is a 3-month trial approval of #BGMI after it has complied with issues of server locations and data security etc. We will keep a close watch on other issues of User harm, Addiction etc., in the next 3 months before a final decision is taken”. This clearly shows the magnitude of the bans on Chinese apps. The ministry and the Govt will not play the soft game now, it’s all about compliance and safeguarding the user’s data.
This move will play a significant role in the future, not only for gaming companies but also for other online industries, to ensure compliance. This move will act as a precedent for the issue of cross-border data flow and the advantages of data localisation. It will go a long way in advocacy for the betterment of the Indian cyber ecosystem. Meity alone cannot safeguard the space completely, it is a shared responsibility of the Govt, industry and netizens.
The advent of online mobile gaming has taken the nation by storm, and thus, being safe and secure in this ecosystem is paramount. The provisional permission form BGMI shows the stance of the Govt and how it is following the no-tolerance policy for noncompliance with laws. The latest policies and bills, like the Digital India Act, Digital Personal Data Protection Act, etc., will go a long way in securing the interests and rights of the Indian netizen and will create a blanket of safety and prevention of issues and threats in the future.
Author : Mr. Abhishek Singh, Lead – Policy and Advocacy, CyberPeace