Pokémon Go is sweeping the nation! The latest reports estimate that the mobile-based augmented reality game has 21 million daily active users and more engagement than Facebook. So, chances are you’ve heard of it or know someone who is playing.
The game encourages players to explore the real world around them and uses their phone as a lens to catch imaginary creatures called Pokémon, which is Japanese for “pocket monster.” (If you’re curious to learn more about the game, read this article from Vox, Pokémon Go: 9 questions about the game you were too embarrassed to ask.)
People of all ages are playing and several news articles have been published touting the game’s positive health benefits. Unfortunately, there are instances where the game has also caused harm. News reports have included mentions of two men falling off of a cliff while playing, armed robbers using the game to lure victims and serious information security vulnerabilities.
Niantic Labs, the developer behind Pokémon Go, has introduced a wonderful new gaming experience to the masses, but with that came unforeseen risk and liabilities. Read on to learn how you can protect yourself and your loved ones while you “catch 'em all.”
Protect Your Privacy and Secure Your Google Account
Pokémon Go requires users to login via their Google account. It was reported that doing so would automatically grant access to stored Google information including email, calendars, photos and documents. This claim turned out to be false, according to the developers, but still highlights an important security issue.
Regularly reviewing the app permissions on your iPhone or Android device can help prevent unwanted access to sensitive information. Additionally, if you’re a business owner who uses Google for Business then you will want to ensure that your employees don’t use their work account to play games. To mitigate the risk, you should also review and consider a cyber liability insurance policy.
Know Your Legal Rights Before Giving Them Up
In addition to protecting your privacy, you may want to think twice before accepting the game’s Terms of Service.
There is an arbitration clause within the game’s T&Cs that notifies users of an automatic agreement to waive their rights to a trial by jury or class action lawsuit unless they opt out of the binding clause.
According to an article on TechCrunch, “To opt out of the legal rights waiver, users need to email email@example.com or can send regular mail to 2 Bryant St., Ste. 220, San Francisco, CA 94105. But the opt out process is only valid if exercised within 30 days following the date a user first accepted the T&Cs.”
As a best practice, it’s always a good idea to read the fine print before accepting any T&Cs.
Heed the Game’s Warning, Pay Attention to Your Surroundings
Every time the game starts up, it includes a warning to be mindful of your surroundings, but that hasn’t stopped users from venturing into dangerous or inappropriate venues.
Three teenagers were stopped outside of a nuclear power plant in Perry, Ohio. Other notable landmarks, such as Arlington National Cemetery and the Holocaust National Museum, have issued statements requesting that gamers not play while visiting.
Police and other authorities across the country have urged people to be careful while playing Pokémon Go. Some tips include:
- Always know where your children are and who they are with.
- Use the buddy system. Don’t play alone.
- Steer clear of areas where it could be dangerous or disrespectful to play.
- Pay extra attention while crossing the street or playing in heavily trafficked areas.
Pokémon Go has fast become the most popular mobile game in U.S. history. Despite the risks, as long as you take the proper steps to protect yourself and your family, Pokémon Go can offer a fun, safe gaming experience for all ages.
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Image Source: Voltordu