Some concerns already revealed by the media regarding the collection of geolocation data in the famous Pokémon Go game!
According to The Intercept website, created by the journalist Glenn Greenwald who released the Snowden revelations: “Pokémon Go is run by a man whose team has literally led to the worst debacle regarding online privacy.” He also explained his biggest fear about John Hanke’ past, Mr Hanke being the former head of Google Geo division: he managed for this group the geolocalisation part – which includes Google Maps and Google Street View – before founding and directing Niantic, which is the publisher of Pokémon GO. At the time of the “Wi-Spy” scandal, John Hanke is the man who was directing this Google unit.
As explained by The Intercept, the Wi-Spy scandal began when the German authorities announced in April 2010 that the Google Street Cars, which were in charge of mapping the roads around the world, were also illegally collecting Wifi data in the same time. Initially, Google representatives said as a defense that these vehicles were recovering metadata such as geolocalisation or the name of the wireless network. But the American giant also later admitted that there could have been broader data collected, due to the fact of a clandestine project set by a Google engineer, later identified as Marius Milner.
Then two years of controversy and investigation followed. Then the FCC – the US telecoms supervisors – finally said in a report that the Google Street Cars had actually extensively collected data exchanged within Wifi networks: and the fear is that it was not only the browsing history, but also emails and passwords. What is even more worrying is that email exchanges mentioned in the report also showed that Google senior officials were indeed well aware of this data collection, and that it was not only required by Milner.
So one can wonder the connection which exists with the Pokémon Go game that is making the world crazy again about Pokémons…
In fact, what you need to know is that the patent behind the game was created in the same way by Hanke and Milner, the two key characters from the extensive data collection Google Cars. Because the patent is quite explicit: “The aim of the game can be directly linked to data collection. The game [may include] a task of acquiring data on the real world as a condition for progressing in the game [. …] We believe that the real challenge is to motivate the players to constantly provide data even after the initial excitement of technological innovation. The data collection process should be entertaining. We are convinced that the fun side is an important aspect of such a data collection service.”
According to the rules stipulated by the Niantic privacy as stated by the Wall Street Journal when you play, Pokémon Go can collect your phone location, but also your IP address and the last web page viewed. This information is thus connected to your Google account (which can be used to log in the game), then Niantic can share them with Pokémon Co., which is partly owned by Nintendo.
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