For years, we have been lamenting that our young people spend too much time indoors playing computer games and not enough time outside or connecting with others. Yet, those same critics now condemn young Pokémon Go players who venture out on Pokémon hunts for a myriad of perceived sins including inattentiveness and irresponsible behavior. Critics also revel in slamming Niantic, Inc., the maker of Pokémon GO, for creating another game purportedly aimed at tracking its players' every move and profiting from the data created by each player.
For parents and others worried about children signing up and playing the game, Pokémon Go requires that the parents of children under 13 "register with The Pokémon Company International, Inc. "before an underage child's account can be created. This is pretty standard and is designed to comply with the parental consent requirements found in the federal Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and certain European data protection laws.
Third, Niantic unsurprisingly collects location information (Pokémon GO is after all, an augmented reality game which relies on and is primarily about player location). Niantic collects and stores each user's location information using each device's cellular, Wi-Fi, and/or GPS signals. When Pokémon GO players "take certain actions during gameplay, [their] user name and location may be shared through the App with other users who are playing the game." Here too, Niantic's ability to know a user's location is no more intrusive than any other mobile app or game a user gives permission to track them through.
About the Authors:
Maria Crimi Speth is a shareholder and intellectual property attorney at the Phoenix law firm of Jaburg Wilk. As chair of their intellectual property group, she has expertise in copyright law, trademark law, and Internet law. She focuses on litigation involving intellectual property rights and First Amendment rights. Ms. Speth is the author of the book, Protect Your Writings: A Legal Guide for Authors.