Why does Pokemon Go Need To Access All Of Your Data

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  • Tech

I downloaded pokemon go 3 days ago on my Google pixel 6 Pro. When i downloaded the app it asked for the permission to my location. I set it to “only when using”. Then at some point after that they asked me again for my location and i allowed it.

Phone Overheating even when its idle

Today my phone got too hot even when i wasn’t using it. This has happened to me when I downloaded StepN crypto app that needs permission to your live location so that they reward you with some crypto every x kilometers. Google pixel 6 Pro seems to have a problem with apps that request live location all the time.

Anyway let’s go back to Pokemon Go, after i noticed this time that my phone is hot , changed the location permission for the app from “always” to “while using”. The app now stopped most features and requested access to my location all the time.

Why would a game need my live location even when I am not using it?! Moreover what personal data does Pokemon Go keeps about me? Where ? For how long?!

Pokémon Go’s creators admitted spying in the past, saying they didn’t mean it

So i did what everyone does when they’re confused. I Googled it. It turns out that Pokemon go was already accused of abusing access to the players personal Google data. The article title was “Pokémon Go’s creators say they didn’t mean to spy on Google accounts”. As a software engineer myself, i wonder how a team of engineers failed to know what their application has access to. It doesn’t make sense for me. But to avoid being biased, i’ll give them the benefit of the doubt, and address this from a customer perspective.

Overall Customer experience

I’m super disappointed from Pokemon Go, they didn’t take into consideration how their app could harm our phones and over heat them. It’s not only bad for the phones themselves but it could be dangerous. The problem with overheating, is that it happened when my phone was supposed to be idle, i wasn’t even using it.

Now as a tech blogger and software engineer, I wonder why the game logic was based on my personal data.I mean i do understand why the application needs my location when i am using it, but background access to location is a bit shady. The app records every move you make, when you’re phone is idle and that’s pretty shady.

Googling the app will also show you that one of the game developers twitter account was hacked.

Let’s talk about GDPR.

What data can we process and under which conditions?

The EU clearly states the rules for data processing in their website. It says:

  • A company/organisation can’t simply collect personal data for undefined purposes…
  • the company/organisation must collect and process only the personal data that is necessary to fulfil that purpose (‘data minimisation’);
  • he company /organisation can’t further use the personal data for other purposes that aren’t compatible with the original purpose;
  • the company/organisation must ensure that personal data is stored for no longer than necessary for the purposes for which it was collected (‘storage limitation’);

It seems that Pokemon go has already admitted to violating the GDPR when they admitted spying on users google profile. However nothing was done to make sure their compliance with GDPR:

  • The app asks for your location to enhance your Pokemon journey, not to sell ads or use your information to make profit.
  • Your information is stored indefinitely on their servers.
  • The application is storing your live location 24/7 hours per day, 365 days per year. which clearly doesn’t follow storage limitation.

One note before i wrap up, pokemon go is not the only app with these issues, it just happens that i liked the game and ended up testing it.

Finally… I am going to end this article, with an open question that would be only answered with time. Is Pokemon Go spying on you?