‘Pokemon GO’ Developer Niantic is Correcting the App’s Privacy Concerns

by David Jagneaux • July 12th, 2016

A few days ago, media outlets from Buzzfeed to Endgadget started reporting that Pokemon GO, the smash-hit, ultra-popular, international phenomenon from Niantic Labs and Nintendo, was raising some privacy concerns. Adam Reeve, a principal architect at Red Owl Analytics, first discovered the issue and wrote about it publicly in a tumblr blog post.

Virtually all mobile applications have access to your phone in some way – sometimes it’s for posting to social media from within the app, other times it’s so it can save certain information onto your device, or other such innocuous functions. But, in the case of Pokemon GO, Reeve discovered that users who linked the game to their Google accounts were granting the app “full access” including emails, browsing data, photos, and virtually everything else Google touches on your phone.

That’s a pretty big deal. Combined with Niantic’s stance on providing your information to third parties when requested, this created a huge privacy concern among players for understandable reasons. According to the company’s Privacy Policy, any personally-identifiable information gathered from its applications can be turned over to law enforcement by request, or even sold to other companies.

Similarly, Oculus and Facebook were just recently at the center of privacy concerns of their own. A few months ago, issues were raised with how the Oculus Rift was tracking and recording user data, which caused such a large media storm it even garnered a response from a United States Senator.

pokemon go hand playing

Now, Niantic has officially responded to the privacy issues surrounding Pokemon GO and promises to issue a fix. In an official statement, Niantic clarified the mistake and assured users it wasn’t actually accessing extra information:

“We recently discovered that the Pokémon GO account creation process on iOS erroneously requests full access permission for the user’s Google account. However, Pokémon GO only accesses basic Google profile information (specifically, your User ID and email address) and no other Google account information is or has been accessed or collected. Once we became aware of this error, we began working on a client-side fix to request permission for only basic Google profile information, in line with the data that we actually access. Google has verified that no other information has been received or accessed by Pokémon GO or Niantic. Google will soon reduce Pokémon GO‘s permission to only the basic profile data that Pokémon GO needs, and users do not need to take any actions themselves.”

Hopefully Niantic will start rolling out fixes for the ongoing server issues plaguing the game’s launch next. I’m sure players in Canada, the UK, and other regions are dying to dive into the world of Pokemon GO as well.

Users on Android can grab the update here and iOS users can access the update here.

Featured Image Source: Mirror Online

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