PUBG Mobile India avatar Battlegrounds Mobile found sending data to servers in China


Krafton’s worst fear about its PUBG Mobile India avatar, the Battlegrounds Mobile India, may have actually come true. And there is no one else but Krafton to blame for that. Battlegrounds Mobile India is allegedly sending data of Indian Android players to servers in China, including one that belongs to Tencent — the publisher of PUBG Mobile. Among the servers that Battlegrounds Mobile India uses to communicate, China Mobile Communications emerged as one of the most-used ones. The PUBG Mobile India version also reportedly relays data between servers located in Hong Kong, Moscow, the US, and Mumbai.

Per an IGN India report, citing some Battlegrounds Mobile India players as well claiming independent verification, Battlegrounds Mobile India does not fall in line with what Krafton said last year at the time of announcing PUBG Mobile India and then, again, last week when it released Battlegrounds Mobile for Android users in India. Folks at IGN India used a data packet sniffer app before playing a match on Battlegrounds Mobile India, only to find later that the game is indeed exchanging data with servers in China among some other ones that are not local.

The log of the packer sniffer app shows several IP addresses that Battlegrounds Mobile India established a connection with for several things. On using the whois search (search engine to track the origin of an IP address), IGN India found out that there was one prominent IP address that Battlegrounds Mobile mostly used and it belonged to Chinese state-owned telecom operator China Mobile Communications Corporation. The server is located in Beijing, according to the report. And it also made a startling revelation that the game was sending the device data. There are screenshots to back this claim, and it seems like Krafton really goofed up here.

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Not just the state-owned telecom company, Battlegrounds Mobile India also established connections with Tencent servers. There was a ping server, a server that was linked to Qcloud — which is a cloud platform owned by Tencent — and an anti-cheat server of Tencent that PUBG Mobile uses to crack down on cheaters in the game. The instances of IP addresses in the whois log show that Battlegrounds Mobile is indeed sending data to China, but whether it is storing it for some purpose is not clear. Apart from China, the game talks to servers in the US, Moscow, and Tencent-run Proxima Beta in Hong Kong. All of this is just the opposite of what Krafton promised.

There are pings to servers in India, as well. Battlegrounds Mobile establishes server connections with Microsoft Azure centres in Mumbai. Last year, Krafton said it will store and process data of Indian players on servers in India and Singapore, but the privacy policy also mentions that there may be a transfer of data “to other countries” to meet “legal requirements”. In case this newfound information takes a legal turn, Krafton may have a way out of this with the privacy policy. However, the Indian government will have the final say in the matter and let us hope it does not turn out to be like the one last year.

India banned PUBG Mobile and 117 other apps last year for being a threat to India’s sovereignty and security. The simpler explanation for the ban is that all the apps were associated with a Chinese company. However, while the apps were shown the exit door last year, there was nothing about the firms that make them. And that is why Tencent and several other companies from China are still operating in India — although some of them have had to downsize their workforce while some have had to shutter some loss-causing businesses to stay afloat.