By Cameron Abbott and Rebecca Murray
The hugely popular Pokémon GO app is at the centre of privacy and security concerns after recent media reports noted that its installation required access to a significant amount of users’ personal information. This prompted Australian Privacy Commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim to make enquiries with the developer of the app, Niantic Labs, to “ensure the personal information of users is being managed in accordance with the Australian Privacy Act.” Read the OAIC statement here.
Available on iOS and Android platforms, the smash-hit game uses augmented reality technology and your smart-phone GPS and camera to display fictional Pokémon which users then aim to find and capture.
Privacy concerns arose after users noted that installing the iOS version of the app required full access to users’ Google accounts. In response, Niantic Labs reported that the access was requested erroneously and that Google would reduce Pokémon GO’s permission to only the basic profile data that it needs. Niantic and Google have since corrected the permissions. Read Niantic’s statement here.
Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim warned that the security scare was a “timely reminder that people need to read the privacy policies of all smartphone apps before signing up. This way people can make an informed decision about if they want to use an app.” However, we will wager that 99% of people just click “accept”.