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PUBG Mobile India aka Battlegrounds India has landed into a fresh controversy, after a user sniffed the data packets from the app and discovered that the app was reportedly sending signals to China servers located in Beijing on Monday, 21 June.
A report by IGN, a gaming news platform, claimed that the data sent and received by the Battlegrounds Mobile India APK are from China Mobile Communication servers in Beijing, the Tencent-run Proxima Beta in Hong Kong, as well as Microsoft Azure servers located in the US, Mumbai, and Moscow.
The report also claims that the app is sending signals to anti-cheat and cloud computing services run by Tencent, though it is not clear if these were also located in China.
PUBG mobile was banned by the Indian government in September last year, citing that the game was a threat to the “sovereignty, integrity, defence and security of the country.”
How Valid is the Claim?
Here's what the report by IGN claimed:
Connection with a server located in China 22.214.171.124
Connection with http://astat.bugly.qcloud.com
Connection with http://down.anticheatexpert.com
Connection with cloud.gsdk.proximabeta.com
The Quint tried to verify the claims, and here's what we found:
There was no packet exchange with 126.96.36.199 (a server in China) and on doing a reverse IP lookup all the IPs which were captured by the packet sniffer pointed to servers located in India.
The packet sniffer did capture the connection request with http://astat.bugly.qcloud.com. Qcloud is owned by Tencent and BGMI was supposed to cut off all connections with Tencent. However, when we did a whois search for the IP, it showed us that the server is located in Singapore.
The packet sniffer did capture the connection request with http://down.anticheatexpert.com. This is to keep a check that no one is using hacks/cheats while playing the game.
We could not connect to http://cloud.gsdk.proximabeta.com, a server located in China.
However, this does not prove that the claims made by IGN are invalid. As several media reports suggest that Krafton developers fixed pinging China servers, late night on Monday.
Reason for Connecting With China Servers
Cyber security expert Sourajeet Majumder told The Quint that it is possible that IGN obtained the Chinese server IPs because the app is still in beta mode and allows the user to transfer their data from a server located in China to India.
But, what's suspicious is BGMI exchanging packets with Qcloud which is owned by Tencent. “I strongly feel since they are transferring the data, probably that is the reason they are still exchanging packets with Qcloud," he said.
It should be noted that the working and storing of data of games like BGMI are so complex it is difficult to deduce anything yet until the company lends clarity on this.
Will PUBG be Banned?
Meenakashi Lekhi, the chairperson of the Joint Committee on the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019, took note of the issue on Twitter, and said that she would reach out to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology – which announced the PUBG Mobile ban last September – to look into the issue.
The game developers made several changes to the new PUBG game, to prevent the application from getting banned again. The changes include renaming PUBG Mobile to 'Battlegrounds Mobile India' and hosting all the users data in India via Microsoft Azure. So why, after all this, would the game developers ping a server in China is not clear.
The Quint tried reaching out to Krafton for a comment. This story will be updated if and when the company responds.
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