12.12.2023

by Mateusz Mazur

India’s Crackdown on Illegal Apps

In recent developments, the Indian government has taken significant steps to curb illegal online activities by blocking a vast number of applications.

India's Crackdown on Illegal Apps

This move, primarily targeting betting, gambling, and unauthorized loan lending apps, marks a concerted effort to regulate digital spaces and protect consumers.

Government’s Stance on Illegal Apps

Minister of State for Finance Pankaj Chaudhary, in a statement to the parliament, revealed that the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has blocked a total of 581 applications under section 69A of the IT Act, 2000.

This extensive list includes 174 betting and gambling apps, 87 loan lending apps, and other applications such as popular gaming apps like PUBG and GArena Free Fire.

The spotlight intensified on illegal betting and gambling apps with MeitY’s recent blocking order against 22 such ‘illegal’ apps and websites, including Mahadev Apps.

This action followed a request from the Enforcement Directorate (ED), which is probing a suspected money laundering syndicate. Despite previous efforts in February, which saw 138 illegal betting and gaming websites blocked, some continued to operate undeterred.

Amendments and Regulatory Actions

In July, the government amended the IGST Act, requiring all offshore gaming companies to register in India. This amendment empowers the government to block unregistered websites violating Indian laws.

October saw a report from The Economic Times highlighting the government’s identification of 114 illegal betting and gambling platforms operating in India through domain farming.

These illicit platforms have been found to collect UPI payments through proxy bank accounts. The funds in these accounts are reportedly channeled through hawala, cryptocurrency transactions, and other illegal routes.

Domestic Online Gaming Companies Raise Concerns

The issue was brought to the forefront again during a presentation to the revenue department by domestic online gaming companies.

They outlined the modus operandi of several offshore betting and gambling platforms that continue to operate illegally in India. Names like Parimatch, Fairplay, 1XBET, Lotus365, Dafabet, and Betwaysatta were mentioned, many of which are on the banned list and under ED investigation.

As of last week, no offshore companies have registered post the October 1st deadline, as stated by the minister of state in a response to a Lok Sabha query.

Our Comment on the Article

The Indian government’s decisive action against illegal online platforms reflects a growing awareness and response to the digital threats faced by consumers. While these measures are commendable in safeguarding interests, it also highlights the challenges in regulating a rapidly evolving digital landscape.

Continuous vigilance and adaptive strategies will be crucial in ensuring the effectiveness of these regulations in the long term. The collaboration between government entities and domestic companies in identifying and addressing these illegal operations is a positive step towards a more regulated and secure digital environment in India.

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