South Korea’s Krafton may have hoped for a better time in India after its most popular game PUBG Mobile returned to India rebranded as Battlegrounds Mobile India. PUBG had been banned in the world’s second largest internet market following concerns that it was sending user data to China. Krafton had hoped that the severing ties with Tencent, the Chinese powerhouse, would solve its problems in India, but it seems that the worst is not behind them, as a report has surfaced that Battlegrounds Mobile India was allegedly sending data of Indian Android players to servers in China, including those that belong to Tencent and the Chinese state government itself, as well as servers in Moscow, US and Hong Kong.
Just within a few days of the launch of the Early Access version of Battlegrounds Mobile India, which saw 5 million downloads, a ban may yet be on the cards (at least if the report is true).
Before the launch of Battlegrounds, developers had assured us that user data would be not be stored in China, and that its servers would be hosted in Singapore and India. The company’s Terms of Service state the same.
According to a report by IGN India, many users claimed that their data was being sent to external servers, including those in China, despite the developers assuring Indian authorities that all of the game’s ties with China would be cut off.
According to IGN, who had installed a data packet sniffer application before playing a match on Battlegrounds Mobile India, the data sent and received by the game APK was being sent to servers both inside India – Microsoft Azure centres in Mumbai – and outside the country, namely, the US, Moscow, Tencent’s Proxima Beta in Hong Kong, and China Mobile Communications servers in Beijing.
The report added that Battlegrounds pinged a Tencent server right after the game was started.
This development is contrary to everything Krafton had told India. The company had said that it wanted to work with the Indian government to comply with the laws of the country, saying that the privacy and security of Indian player data was a tip priority for them. Calls for the ban of the game is already in the air, and we are yet to receive an official statement from the government.
One might have hoped that Krafton had learnt from their lesson in associating with a Chinese tech giant while operating in the Indian market, but unfortunately that does not seem to be the case.