Unless you’re living under a rock, you’ve heard of Pokemon Go. The mobile game which revamps the 90’s anime franchise has swept the world. Created by Niantic, Inc., and more popular than ever-addicting social media platforms like Snapchat, the location based augmented reality game allows users to capture, battle and train virtual Pokemon as though in the real world. More on augmented reality here.
With Every Great Technological Advance Comes Great Legal Responsibility
While the game has increased players’ physical activity and been attributed with helping those with mental disorders, depression, and anxiety, it has also created many legal concerns, including
- Physical injuries; and
- arbitration rights.
But, with all the data that Pokemon Go is collecting from its players, who average 43 minutes of playing time per day, the major legal issue seems to be privacy.
The Data Exploitation of Pokemon Go
From the beginning of game play, players are giving the app a lot of information. Some of it seems harmless: e-mail address, name, naming your Pokemon, etc. But the real concern is its constant location tracking, a feature you consent to being accessible for other users to see.
Pokemon Go is definitely not the first game to sell persistent location tracking as a “service” but it is one of the most successful, with some 100 million installs to date and the most downloaded app on the App Store during its launch week. By playing the game, users agree to allow Niantic, and fellow users, to track their location any time the app is in use. For most users, who await the buzz of their phones to indicate a Pokemon is near, this means their app is always on, making Niantic a little less like a tech company and a little more like Big Brother.
How is the data going to be used?
- Pokemon Go’s launch and success have resulted in multiple legal concerns: injury liability, trespass, intellectual property and arbitration rights
- The collected information has the potential to change the way we advertise – providing real-time advertisements and increasing sales through the game itself
This article was co-authored by: Irene Wong
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