Pokémon Go raises privacy concerns over full Google account access permission

  • Pokémon Go raises privacy concerns over the app’s access to the users’ personal Google accounts
  • Players can login to the game using their Google accounts which grants the app full access permission 
  • App maker Niantic Inc. has recently released an update that reduces the app’s access to users’ personal data

The augmented reality mobile game, Pokémon Go, that took the world by storm is raising privacy concerns over how much user data it has access to.

Players of the iOS version of Pokémon Go can conveniently log in to the game using their Google accounts which grants the app certain access permission by default. However, according to an article published by Wired, unlike in other applications, the game doesn’t display that it will be granted permission to access the users’ entire Google account, including Gmail and Google Drive documents.

The app has been downloaded more than 5 million times and steadily rising daily active users. Given the game’s worldwide popularity and that its users have allowed the app full access to their Google accounts, which are stored in the app maker, Niantic Inc., servers, it will be a potential target for hackers.

As stated in the Pokémon Go privacy policy, Niantic may collect data such as your email address, IP address, the web page you were using before logging into Pokémon Go, your username, and your location — which may fall into the hands of hackers should Niantic’s servers become compromised.

In a statement released by Niantic, the app maker said they did not intend for the account sign-up process to ask for full Google account access. Niantic assured players that it will not use this access of personal information and said that the company is working on fixing to reduce the access permission needed to play the game.

“Google will soon reduce Pokémon Go’s permission to only the basic profile data that Pokemon Go needs,” the company said.

On July 12, Tuesday, Niantic released the promised update reducing permissions with no further action needed from the users. The 1.01 update also improves the game’s stability which was reportedly prone to random crashes and freezes since its initial release on July 6.