The makers of Pokemon Go,the highest earning company Niantic , responded today to a letter from Al Franken, that questioned the wildly popular game’s privacy features. Niantic defended the game’s use of players’ location data and explained how it collects consent from the parents of players under the age of 13.
Niantic also described the types of data it collects from all players , and hinted at what data it might scrape up in future releases of the app. The company is currently working to roll out sponsored locations in the U.S., which raises new questions about user privacy.
Pokemon Go kicked up controversy soon after its release when some players using iOS noticed that the game required full access and control over their Google accounts. Niantic blamed a bug and the issue was quickly resolved too, but questions about how much the app uses users’ privacy remained, and ultimately led to the inquiry by Sen. Franken.
The Minnesota senator inquired Niantic to explain several details about how Pokemon Go works and what it uses including whether all the data collection was necessary, how data will be shared and how parental consent is obtained for kids who play the game.
Location data is necessary for the game to function as players catch Pokemon and visit PokeStops that are nearby, so the app has to know where they are. But the app also gathers information about the device the player is using…….and Niantic says it might soon collect information about the user’s language preferences too. It does’t seems to be a big deal.
Niantic general counsel Courtney Greene Power wrote a letter to Sen. Franken (PDF) sying, “Country is collected and stored, to provide a user the appropriate experience; language may be stored in future updates, for the same purpose,The app collects certain information to facilitate important quality and stability objectives and to prevent abuse. This includes information such as mobile operating system, mobile device identifier, and hardware build information. This information is used to debug phone-specific game problems and to detect and avoid cheating in the game.”
Niantic explained that players under 13 are redirected to the company’s website when they register to play, where their parent must also register. Parents are asked to provide several details to verify their identity, including the sum of the first and last digit of their Social Security number, name, birth date and physical address. The verification process is handled by a third-party vendor, Veratad and Niantic says it doesn’t receive any of the parents’ verification information.
The company also clarified how and why it shares data with third parties.
“Niantic does not and has no plans to sell Pokémon Go user data — aggregated, de-identified or otherwise — to any third party,” Power wrote. She added that data is shared with mobile app analytics companies and with marketing and analysis companies, but that these companies are under confidentiality agreements to keep user data secure. User data shared with third parties does not include the data of users under 13, the company said, and no user data will be shared with investors.However, the plan not to sell user data may soon be faced with a hiccup as Niantic begins rolling out sponsored locations in the game. “As we continue to develop our sponsored locations program, we will provide certain reports to sponsors about visits and game actions (such as redeeming a promotion at the location), but those reports will contain aggregated data only,” the letter said.
Sen. Franken, who has been a advocate for privacy issues and heads the Senate Privacy and Technology Subcommittee, said that Niantic’s response to his questions was comprehensive but that he wants the company to further clarify its privacy policies.
Sorry for this long article…but it was necessary for us players to know what extent of our information is being used by Niantic.Thats all for today.Stick with us for all latest news of pokemon go and other anime seasons too.Like our facebook page, and if you are a youtuber or some fan looking for a platform for marketing….feel free to contact us at [email protected] or [email protected] will get to you in no time and have a discussion over.Also if you are a tech addict and want to write about your favorite technology that can be any thing gadgets, app review, computer hardware/software review etc. write your request to us at [email protected].