Free Fire disappears from Google Play Store, Apple App Store, possibly among 54 Chinese apps banned in India

[UPDATE 14 February 2022, 1:20 PM]: Garena Free Fire has been officially banned in India, confirms the Ministry of Electronics and Computers. The full list of 54 banned Chinese apps has been revealed, click here to view the full list.

The Indian government may have banned 54 apps of Chinese origin in the country. A report of HE now claims that the Union government ordered the banning of more than 50 apps in India that apparently posed a security threat.

Although the full list of banned apps has yet to be revealed, the report claims that these apps belonged to major Chinese companies such as Tencent, Alibaba, etc. Most of these apps have been rebranded as avatars of previously banned apps in 2020. The popular game Free Fire has also been removed from the Google Play Store, which could imply that it was part of the ban.

Free Fire removed from Playstore, here’s why

Garena’s popular battle royale game Free Fire has been removed from the Google Play Store and Apple’s Inda App Store at a time when a host of other Chinese apps have been banned.

Neither Garena, nor Google, nor Apple have released a statement on this. It should be noted that Garena is also embroiled in a legal case with PUBG Mobile developers Krafton Inc for allegedly copying the game. This could also be a possible reason for the game’s removal from the app stores. While these are all possible reasons, we can only be sure with an official statement from Garena Inc.

The Indian government started banning apps of Chinese origin in 2020 and has since banned over 270 apps in India, including popular apps and games such as Tiktok, Alibaba and PUBG Mobile. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology could have issued the order to ban these apps on the grounds that these apps were sending Indian user data to China.

“Access to all 54 apps has already been blocked in India through the PlayStore,” an official told Economic Times. Meity used his powers under section 69a of the Information Technology Act 2000 to enforce the latest order.

“Many apps from the Tencent and Alibaba stable changed hands to hide ownership. They are also hosted outside of countries like Hong Kong or Singapore, but data was ultimately transferred to servers in Chinese destinations,” said said a senior official highlighting the reason behind the app ban in India.

Many apps banned in the 2020 wave had started launching their clone apps in India. PUBG Mobile has relaunched a modified version, Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI) in India, several short video apps owned by major Chinese companies have also been relaunched in the country. Look for more updates on this story.

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