Pokémon Go Triggers Slew of Privacy Concerns

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A US Senator has written an official letter addressed to Niantic, the developer behind Pokémon Go game, to express concerns over the wildly popular game.

“I am concerned about the extent to which Niantic may be unnecessarily collecting, using, and sharing a wide range of users’ personal information without their appropriate consent,” Senator Al Franken’sletter reads. “As the augmented reality market evolves, I ask that you provide greater clarity on how Niantic is addressing the issues of user privacy and security, particularly that of its younger players.”

He continues:

Niantic can collect a broad swath of personal information from its players . . . Niantic has access to a significant amount of information, unless users – many of whom are children – opt-out of this collection . . . Pokemon GO s privacy policy specifically states that any information collected – including a child’s – “is considered to be a business asset” and will thus be disclosed or transferred to a third party in the event that Niantic is party to a merger, acquisition, or other business transaction.

The Senator then asks for responses to seven questions by August 12. Sme of the key questions he wants answers to:

  • “If, in fact, some of the information collected and/or permissions requested by Pokemon GO are unnecessary for the provision of services, would Niantic consider making this collection/access opf-in, as opposed to requiring a user to opt-out of the collection/access?”
  • “Pokemon GO has further indicated that it shares de-identified and aggregate data with other third parties for a multitude of purposes. Can you more exhaustively describe the purposes for which Pokemon GO would share or sell such data?”
  • “Apart from publicly available privacy policies, how does Niantic inform parents about how their child’s information is collected and used?”

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