Should PUBG and other online video games be banned or regulated in India?

A Public Interest litigation (PIL) was recently filed in the Bombay HC calling for a ban on the popular video game, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG). The PIL has been filed on grounds that the game promotes violence, aggression and cyber-bullying. The need for curbing cyber-bullying is being recognized worldwide which has led to debates on regulation of online content including video games that promote cyber-bullying.

Cyber-bullying incidents in India

Cyber-bullying refers to bullying which takes place online and covers a wide range of behaviour intended to harass or ridicule the victim online. For instance, online trolls, morphing of images, abusive messages and revenge porn are forms of cyber-bullying. Cyber-bullying differs from bullying which takes place in the offline context because perpetrators of cyber-bullying are often anonymous and can harass their victims without the risk of identification in many cases.

In the context of video games, a gamer may be the victim of abusive communication by other gamers (typically when the game is played in teams); this is a form of cyber-bullying. Similarly, sexism in online video games is also a form of cyber-bullying.

PUBG is not the only game to become notorious for cyber-bullying. In 2017, a PIL was filed in the Supreme Court to ban the video game, ‘Blue Whale Challenge’, on the basis that the game amounted to cyber-bullying and was aimed at abetting suicide of gamers. In Blue Whale Challenge, the game is played one on one where the administrator sets tasks for the player, which include watching horror movies and infliction of self-harm; the player is said to be forced to play the game on the threat of blackmail that non-participation will result in the administrator posting extremely personal information about the player publicly. The SC disposed of the PIL without banning the game because of the technological inability of social media companies and internet platforms to block the game. ..Read More..

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