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Cybersafety: Regulators ban 22 betting apps, Web sites over illegal operations

Photo: ThinkWithNiche

*The Enforcement Directorate of India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has ordered blockade of the illegal betting app syndicate and subsequent raids on Mahadev Book in Chhattisgarh, revealing the app’s unlawful operations in the country’s digital space

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

Sequel to investigations and raids by operatives of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) of India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) Sunday, November 5, 2023, ordered blockade of 22 illegal betting apps and Web sites.

ConsumerConnect reports the latest regulatory action against the firms also affected a controversial app, Mahadev Book Online, according an official notification.

The Ministry, in a statement, noted it had issued the order to ban the apps, which followed investigations conducted by the ED “against illegal betting app syndicate and subsequent raids on Mahadev Book in Chhattisgarh, revealing the app’s unlawful operations.”

Investigations into the firms’ operations were said to have come weeks after the ED seized assets worth Rs 417 crore in connection with the Mahadev online betting app.

The probe agency had then, alleged that the company was running operations from Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and made Rs 450 crore per month by offering illegal bets through a cache of online applications.

Commenting on the development, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology, said: “Chhattisgarh Government had all the power to recommend shutting down of Web site/app under Sec. 69A IT Act. However, they did not do so.

“They have been investigating it for last 1.5 years.”

In a scathing post on X, however, Chandrasekhar alleged inaction on the part of CM Bhupesh Baghel, who faced election in the state December.

It is recalled that the Indian IT Ministry, March this year, had issued similar orders to bar the operations of 138 betting and gambling apps on an “urgent” and “emergency” basis.

Over the last two years, the government had banned close to 400 gaming, gambling, betting, photo editing and other apps and Web sites for either having links with China or being involved in money laundering as well as improper storage of data of Indian citizens, ETtech report said.

Cyberattacks skyrocket by 460 percent in India

Meanwhile, Indian Government agencies have seen cyberattacks skyrocket by 460 percent during this period.

Those on startups, and Small and Medium-Scale Enterprises (SMEs) shot up by a whopping 508 percent as per the report.

Report also indicated the findings came days after opposition lawmakers received alerts on their Apple iPhones that they could be potential targets of a state-sponsored privacy attack.

The government has ordered a probe to unearth more details on this, according to report.

Cyfirma found that services companies, including IT and BPO, were at the receiving end of 14.3 percent of cyberattacks between March 2021 and September 2023.

This was followed by manufacturing at 11.6 percent, and healthcare and education at around 10 percent each.

Retail, including online platforms, saw 9.8 percent of attacks while government agencies saw 9.6 percent.

The report further showed that India is the biggest target globally, facing nearly 13.7 percent of all cyberattacks.

The US is in second place at 9.6 percent, followed by Indonesia and China with 9.3 percent and 4.5 percent respectively.

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