Niantic Promises Fix for Aggressive Pokemon Go Permissions


Pokemon Go is a major hit, but is it also a huge privacy threat waiting to happen?

"Pokemon Go is a huge security risk," security analyst Adam Reeve wrote on Tumblr, pointing to the "full access" app permissions granted to developers by those logging in with a Google account. What's more, iOS users cannot edit those permissions; the only option is to revoke access entirely—an apparently inadvertent move by game maker Niantic Labs.

In response, Pokemon Go publisher Niantic told Polygon that "the Pokemon Go account creation process on iOS erroneously requests full access permission for the user's Google account" like your user ID and email address.

"Once we became aware of this error, we began working on a client-side fix to request permissions for only basic Google profile information, in line with the data that we actually access," the statement continued. "Google has verified that no other information has been received or accessed by Pokemon Go or Niantic. Google will soon reduce Pokemon Go's permission to only the basic profile data that Pokemon Go needs, and users do not need to take any actions themselves."

Niantic Labs did not immediately respond to PCMag's request for comment; a Google spokeswoman declined to comment.

Reeve said he is "really happy they're addressing the problem promptly, my intention was only ever to get some attention after my initial attempts to contact the developers failed."

The popularity of the game, meanwhile, prompted Niantic to delay its international rollout. But in China, online marketplace Taobao, run by Web giant Alibaba, reportedly features Apple and Google accounts claiming access to the game, as well as software that forges a phone's location to appear in another country where Pokemon roam free, The Wall Street Journal reports.

But, as the Journal pointed out, even these hacks aren't always enough. So, in the spirit of entrepreneurship, Chinese developers are capitalizing on Nintendo's augmented-reality mobile game by offering their own knockoff versions. "City Elf Go," a location-based interactive title that encourages users to "visit provinces" and collect elves, is currently the top free iOS download in the country, according to data provider App Annie.

Pokemon Go, meanwhile, remains No. 1 in the US and Australia. For more, see How to Fix Common Pokemon Go Issues.

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