Gamers Exploit Loopholes To Bypass India’s PUBG Ban, But Is It Legal?

The return of PUBG Mobile appears nowhere in sight after the IT ministry clarified in its response to an RTI (right to information) request that the Indian government hasn’t given permission to PUBG Corporation — the video game’s South Korea-based parent entity — to relaunch the popular battle royale esports title’s mobile version in the country.

However, it seems the ban never dented the euphoria for the game among esports enthusiasts, who soon adapted to the situation and exploited loopholes in the government’s directive to return to the battleground. Several PUBG streamers in the country have resorted to downloading the APK file for PUBG Mobile’s Korea (KR) version from TapTap, a mobile game sharing community. 

Thus, for a lot of the game’s popular streamers in India, business is back to usual, as they’ve begun monetising PUBG Mobile’s KR version and streaming their plays on Facebook, YouTube and Twitch. Further, digital tabloids such as Sportskeeda and Talkesport are catering to this audience by publishing articles on ‘How To Download PUBG Mobile KR Version’ and ‘How To Download PUBG Mobile KR Version Update’, among several others. 

Some of the notable esports streamers who are monetising PUBG Mobile KR version include Dynamo, Maxtern, Toxic Mavi, BandookBaaz and Kronten. Further, esports organisations such as Villager Esports, Modelling Cops and Upthrust Esports have begun organising scrims, which are online practice esports matches between two teams. 

The list of banned apps that was released in September this year, included the specific names of certain apps. These were PUBG MOBILE Nordic Map: Livik and PUBG MOBILE LITE. Hence, certain esports streamers have argued on social media that playing PUBG Mobile (KR) Version doesn’t constitute a violation of the government’s directive. 

It is worth noting that on October 29, nearly two months after the government had banned PUBG Mobile in India, the game’s official India handle put up a post which read, “To comply with the interim order of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology dated September 2, 2020, Tencent Games will terminate all service and access for users in India to PUBG MOBILE Nordic Map: Livik and PUBG MOBILE Lite (together, “PUBG Mobile”) on October 30, 2020. The rights to publish PUBG MOBILE in India will be returned to the owner of the PUBG intellectual property.”

Legal experts Inc42 spoke to, were of the opinion that playing PUBG Mobile (KR) does, in fact, constitute a violation of the government’s directive. 

Siddharth Mahajan, a partner at Athena Legal, pointed out that for the formal relaunch of PUBG Mobile in India, the game’s parent entity would have to demonstrate to the Indian government that the game is no longer jeopardising data security for its users and is not prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of…

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