September 2016 Bar Bulletin
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September 2016 Bar Bulletin

Pokémon No Go: The Risks to Privacy, Safety and Productivity

By Gary Miliefsky


For years, I’ve been talking about free, downloadable smartphone apps as creepware that is designed with one major purpose — to spy on you and your children. Creepware is a form of malware that spies on you for whatever reason the developer chooses — either to listen in on your microphone, covertly take pictures of you and your surroundings or, even worse, to ultimately steal your identity by grabbing your name, phone number, email address and, of course, one or more of your credit cards and/or bank account login information.

AR stands for Augmented Reality. There’s a new wave of games and apps that superimpose a gaming environment onto the real world or, by using your geolocation, onto a real map. While it sounds exciting and fun, Pokémon Go is an AR gaming app that has opened a Pandora’s box for criminals, surprise visitors (to your home), child predators and even teenagers doing more than just texting and driving — putting their own lives in jeopardy. Read on ...

Along comes the Pokémon Go game written for the Android and iPhone that is a “location based game.” I have yet to meet someone who reads the fine print on any privacy policy on any app they download. If your child downloads Pokémon Go and nags you to let them use it, you’ve just given up your family’s right to privacy.

Your child will be in a live-game experience where they are constantly geolocated by other players, who could be adult predators (pedophiles), and the company that makes the game warns you that they now have the right to ship all the information they collected on you, the approving parent, and your children overseas. Don’t believe me, here’s some of the fine print:

Location Information

The App is a location-based game. We collect and store information about your (or your authorized child’s) location when you (or your authorized child) use our App and take game actions that use the location services made available through your (or your authorized child’s) device’s mobile operating system, which makes use of cell/mobile tower triangulation, Wi-Fi triangulation, and/or GPS. You understand and agree that by using our App you (or your authorized child) will be transmitting your (or your authorized child’s) device location to us and some of that location information, along with your (or your authorized child’s) user name, may be shared through the App. For example, when you take certain actions during gameplay, your (or your authorized child’s) user name and location may be shared through the App with other users who are playing the game. We may also use location information to improve and personalize our Services for you (or your authorized child).

International Transfer

Your (or your authorized child’s) PII may be transferred to, and maintained on, computers located outside of your state, province, country, or other governmental jurisdiction where the privacy laws may not be as protective as those in your jurisdiction. If you’re located outside the United States and choose to provide your (or your authorized child’s) PII to us, we may transfer your (or your authorized child’s) PII to the United States and process it there. Whenever we transfer your (or your authorized child’s) PII outside of the jurisdiction in which you (or your authorized child) are located, we ensure that appropriate safeguards are in place in relation to its security. You may request us not to transfer your (or your authorized child’s) PII to the United States, but if you do so, we may not be able to provide some or all of the Services to you (or your authorized child).

Learn more about their privacy policy here:

Sure, this vendor claims to comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), but to confirm this requires proof that you are the adult/parent and they collect your information in the process — what a double whammy!

Don’t think adults are playing this game? Read this story about an adult who downloaded the game and is turning people away from his home daily:

What about teenage criminal thugs using the app to lure unsuspecting victims nearby and then rob them? Try this story:

The three areas of risk related to Pokémon Go are privacy, safety and productivity, as follows:


a) Your identity and your kids’ identities will be sold. The privacy policy is horrible1 — it even says they can sell your data and host it overseas where privacy laws may not exist or be weaker, offering you little or no protection. Serious privacy concerns: To comply with COPPA, they want proof that a parent approves use so they collect your info, your child’s info, including date of birth, your full names and your address.

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