Pokémon Go's New Update Fixes That Major Security "Issue"

Photo: Courtesy of Niantic.
As the superhero saying goes, with great power comes great responsibility. No one can deny that this isn't the case for Pokémon Go. The insanely popular mobile game has over 7.5 million users, but currently has many people questioning their safety after a close-up look at the game's privacy policy.

In a Tumblr post yesterday, developer Adam Reeve drew attention to the app's unusual access to your Google account. According to Reeve, Pokémon Go's full access granted the game's developer, Niantic, Inc., permission to see your email, send email from your name, view your search history, and more. Reeve sounded the alarm, and the internet, unsurprisingly, freaked out.

Niantic, Inc. swiftly issued a statement addressing the issue and took steps to ensure that the app can only access basic profile information from your Google account. Now, a new update is available for iOS users that fixes the account settings altogether. Basically, Niantic said, it all came down to a wording issue: While the app's account creation process asked you to grant it full permission to your Google account, it was never actually able to do that.

When one security engineer tested the game to see if he could access personal information, such as a Google Calendar and individual emails, he was unable to. This suggests that, as Niantic said in their statement, the app could only access standard, biographical data such as your phone number and email address. Reeve has also backtracked on his original posting, telling Gizmodo that he was mistaken in his analysis.

But, since Pokémon Go does insert itself into your personal, real life more than other apps, your security qualms aren't entirely unwarranted. Experts from tech company Enjoy recommend doing one of three things if you're still concerned: Create a new Google account to sign into the game that is unconnected to your personal or work accounts; check your account security on Google to see which apps are accessing your information and change permissions; and, finally, keep looking for updates from Pokémon Go so that when a change has been made, your game reflects that. If you still feel nervous about how the app uses and tracks your data (a potentially valid concern), use an old phone for the game, instead of the "real" phone you use for your general day-to-day activities, so it's less tied to your online identity.

At least this way, you can throw Poké Balls without worrying about your personal safety.


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