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Pokéman GO gets your data… all of it

Pokémon GO is a species all its own. Recently launched by software developers Niantic, the augmented-reality video-game has quickly earned legions of dedicated fans worldwide. While massively successful, the mobile application’s data concerns have raised various red flags in the security community. Should we be more cautious about our data?

Structured’s Brandon Bischoff chimes in.

Pokéman GO gets your data… all of it

Written by Brandon Bischoff, Technical Customer Service Specialist

We love our Apps.  They assist us with the mundane, they guide us to the best food and drink, and they enable us to connect with friends, family, and even complete strangers in meaningful ways. When the next big thing arrives, we hurriedly go to the app store, click Download, accept the permissions it requires, and then we are off. 

That third step in the App purchase — accept the permissions — isn’t one we often consider. Notice I said accept the permissions, I didn’t say read. We accept the permissions requirements much the same way we look at warnings before climbing onto a rollercoaster.  We simply want to continue on with our lives and pay little attention to the risk. 

The current example of this is Pokémon GO. The video game may seem silly to those unacquainted, but to the under-35 crowd this is the crowning moment of our childhood dreams. Combining exercise and Pokémon — how could this ever be a bad thing? One slight gotcha: If you use your Google account to sign up, then you just handed over the keys of the kingdom to game developers Niantic.

We can hope this was an oversight with no intended malicious intent, but let’s take a moment to consider what the App is really asking for: everything.

At some point paranoia takes over and the tinfoil hats come out. So, hooray for mass hysteria!

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Courtesy of the near instantaneous push-back from security-minded participants, many of Pokémon GO’s security hazards have already been remedied with the current update — though it’s far from ideal.  

App developers need to be more cognizant of what data they are requiring versus what they actually need. 

So what do we, as users, have to learn from all of this? We must pay more attention to the data we are handing over to App developers upon installation. We need to be constantly pushing back on developers to consider our privacy when they ask for our consent. We must remind developers that we are people and not data points. With a unified voice, developers will listen if we speak loud enough. 

Now leave me alone, I have Pokémon to catch.

Further reading:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/07/11/pushy_pokemon_go_criticized/

https://gist.github.com/arirubinstein/fd5453537436a8757266f908c3e41538


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