Free Fire India Ban: Singapore Said to Flag Concern Over Ban on Sea’s Game

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Four sources told Reuters that Singapore had raised concerns with India over the ban on the popular gaming app Freefire, owned by technology group C, in the first sign of diplomatic intervention following the move, four sources told Reuters.

Following the ban, the market value of the New York-listed Southeast Asian company fell by $ 16 billion (approximately Rs 1,21,210 crore) in a single day, and investors are worried that India could expand it to the offshore e-commerce app, Shop, which was recently launched in the country.

Sources, including two Indian government officials, said Singapore had asked Indian authorities why the app was targeted at expanding crackdowns on Chinese apps, even though C is headquartered in a wealthy city state.

Singapore asked if the app was “unintentionally banned,” said an Indian official aware of the diplomatic move.

Concerns raised with India’s foreign ministry were forwarded to the Department of Information Technology (IT) which ordered the ban, two Indian sources said.

Sources, who declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the talks, said they did not know how, and if so, the Indian government planned to respond to Singapore’s concerns.

A spokesman for the Singapore government and the sea did not immediately respond to a request for comment. India’s IT department, its foreign ministry and the government’s spokesman’s office also did not respond.

Official sources told Reuters that India had blocked Freefire this month from a group of 54 apps that believed to be sending user data to Chinese servers.

China has responded with serious concerns, saying it expects India to treat all foreign investors non-discriminatory.

In response to the ban, Sagar told Reuters at the time, “We do not transfer or store any data of our Indian users in China,” adding that it was a Singapore company that complied with Indian law.

The initial ban on 59 Chinese apps in India, including TikTok, came after a border clash with China in 2020, and a total of 321 of them, including Free Fire, were expanded this month.

The main market

India is the top market for both Free Fire and its premium version, Free Fire Max, according to the number of downloads, according to analyst firm CensorTower. But in 2021, India accounted for only 2.6 per cent of C’s mobile-game net sales.

According to the source, the sea has been guarded by the Indian embargo.

Alphabet told Google Sea and other companies about India’s ban, asking the Singaporean company to ask the US search giant why its app had been removed from the Play Store in India, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said.

In response, Google CK said it was following the Indian government’s order and could not disclose more, the individual added. Google did not respond to a request for comment.

Sagar also sent a letter to the Indian Ministry of Technology seeking clarification. The two men briefly said in the letter that it described the company as a “Singapore” firm that does not park data in China.

C was founded in 2009 as Garena, a gaming publisher in Singapore, and its founder is a Singaporean of Chinese descent.

The premium version of the game, Free Fire MAX, is now the most downloaded mobile game in India and is still available on Google’s India Play Store.

Thomson Reuters 2022


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