TL;DR: playing Pokémon Go is probably not a great idea if you’re at all concerned about your or your child’s privacy.
The phenomenon of the “augmented reality” game Pokémon Go has been a big topic of conversation around the world. The game relies on real-world physical locations that you can visit – and while there, use the App on your phone to play for virtual prizes. Like most freemium games, you can also pay to speed up or enhance your character and capabilities by spending real money.
This obviously introduces a wide variety of privacy issues – some of which with the blend of online game and real-world location – are quite new.
Combining an App where you have to give up personal info to register and play and then, optionally, pay with all the real identity information associated with a bank-issued credit card, make for some unique privacy concerns. Here are some of the issues we’re concerned about, and here’s what you can do with Abine’s Blur to help get more privacy – but still live up to the aspirations of your inner Ash Ketchum.
Privacy and payments concerns when playing Pokémon Go:
- ‘Telegraphing’ the location(s) you’re going to and when you’ll be there to other unknown players. Pretty obvious that this is never a smart thing to do
- Allowing the app to broadcast your location in real-time
- Giving out your true age during registration could attract the wrong people
- Paying with your credit card (or your parents’ card) can allow marketers to perfectly match your real identity to your account
How you can use Blur and Pokémon Go:
- Asked for a phone number? Use a Masked Phone
- Asked for an email address? Use a Masked Email
- Asked for a Credit Card? Use a Masked Card
Unsurprisingly, we’re not the only ones who see some serious privacy issues revolving around Pokémon Go, as seen in this article that explains that EPIC (Electronic Privacy Information Center) wants the FTC to do a thorough investigation of the game.
Some important pieces to note:
During gameplay and when you (or your authorized child) register to create an account with us (“Account”), we’ll collect certain information that can be used to identify or recognize you (or your authorized child) (“PII”). Specifically, because you must have an account with Google, Pokémon Trainer Club (“PTC”), or Facebook before registering to create an Account, we will collect PII (such as your Google email address, your PTC registered email address, and/or your Facebook registered email address) that your privacy settings with Google, PTC, or Facebook permit us to access.
Oh, so they have to know about all of your Facebook/ Google+ friends, their birthdays, their email addresses and other personally identifying contact information….nice.
During game play we will collect certain information, such as your (or your authorized child’s) user name and messages sent to other users. This information will not allow others to identify you (or your authorized child) unless you (or your authorized child) choose to use your (or your authorized child’s) real name and other identifying information. When you (or your authorized child) create an Account we also will collect other information (such as country and language) that cannot be used to identify you (or your authorized child) unless combined with other identifying information.
“The information that we make you give us can’t be used to identify yourself, unless we combine it with all of the other information that we make you give us”….like your name, credit card information, age, address, etc….cool….
3. Accounts with Children.
…. As described in the Terms of Service (“Terms”), the parent or legal guardian (“Parent”) of each child under the age of 13 must register with The Pokémon Company International, Inc. (“TPCI”) through PTC before creating an Account. Registering a PTC account requires that a child’s Parent provide an email address, a user name for the user and the date of birth of the user. For U.S. residents, after a Parent has registered a PTC account, TPCI will verify that the child is the Parent’s child by asking for the sum of the first and last digits of the Parent’s social security number and the Parent’s name, date of birth, and street address.
Considering that the game is really mostly aimed towards children, if you don’t want your child to ‘sign-in’ to Pokémon Go using Facebook or Google, you’re required to give up information about YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER.
Finally, when playing Pokémon Go, please watch where you’re walking: http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/Two-Men-Fall-Down-Cliff-While-Playing-Pokemon-Go-386743551.html
If you’re going to engage in the Pokemon Go phenomenon, remember to be safe, always be aware of your surroundings, and never give out personal information to people or parties that you don’t trust.
Use Blur when playing Pokémon Go to help preserve your privacy.