Nepal’s ban of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds has been embarrassingly short-lived. The government has been forced to step back as country’s Supreme Court issues an interim order pausing the block.
Justice Ishwar Prasad Khatiwada told the government that it runs the risk of violating Article 17 of Nepal’s constitution, which concerns freedom of expression. According to The Himalayan, evidence that ban is just and reasonable must be presented.
The original ban was enacted on April 11 due to concerns about aggression and addiction. Nepal’s Metropolitan Crime Division pushed the ban through court in a day, citing consultations with psychiatrists.
ISP and mobile operators were told to block traffic to and from PUBG servers, with police willing to arrest players who did not comply.
However, the Nepalese government hasn’t provided the Supreme Court with a sufficient argument. Such a case could require direct evidence that the fears of addiction and aggression are warranted.
The court’s pushback was reportedly a response to a writ petition filed by several advocates. They argued that blocking a popular internet-based form of entertainment was clearly related to freedom of expression.
For now, ISPs are free to unblock PUBG and players can game without fear of repercussions. It’s unclear if the grace period will hold indefinitely, but players will be relieved their voices were heard.
Nepal isn’t the first to crack down on the game, with four cities in India banning it in recent times and arresting 16 citizens. Last week, Iraq implemented similar measures, citing concerns about health, culture, and moral threats to children.
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Despite pushback in some countries, PUBG made almost a billion dollars last year. Though there’s competition from Apex: Legends and Fortnite, it retains a high player base, with a peak of over 931,000 players on Steam in the past month.