The new “Pokemon Go” app is said to be the biggest mobile game in U.S. history. But its creators admit they made a big mistake. And because of it, countless gamers gave up private information.
“Pokemon Go” is a virtual reality game that allows you to interact with real-world surroundings. Millions of people have downloaded the app since it first came out eight days ago.
Like most cell phone apps, you enter some personal information, uncheck the box that asks if you want to receive free Pokemon promotions, and start playing.
Erica Barry, 19, and her friends are among the millions who are hooked on the craze. She, like most users, didn't know that by signing in with her iPhone through a Google Account, the game's developer, Niantic Inc, had full access to her account. An app with full access can see and modify nearly all information in your Google Account.
"It is kind of concerning, they might have my student ID number, they might know what school I go to, they probably definitely know my name. I don't think I have super private information like social security or anything in there. But there definitely is information that I wouldn't share with strangers on the street in there," Barry said.
The state Office of Consumer Protection says once they have that information, it's likely to be shared with others.
"They want to get your private information because they need to make money; they're not just into giving away stuff for free. And how do they make money? They gather your private information and they sell it to third parties," said Stephen Levins, Hawaii Office of Consumer Protection Executive Director.
Niantic said it was a mistake and fixed the problem on Tuesday. But users must log out and download the update. At the very least, Levins advises users to check the privacy settings on your cellphones and see what you're giving consent to the company to view.