Don’t Kill Yourself – or get Someone Killed – Playing Pokemon Go

Julie Fidler
July 15, 2016

Until a couple of days ago, I’d never heard of Pokemon Go. Now I can’t get away from the smartphone game, released July 6, but I haven’t played it, and I’m still trying to figure out exactly what it is. I feel old admitting it, but I had to look it up online for an explanation. Though if you have kids, you probably know more than I do.


OK, let me see if I can make this make sense. Actually, never mind. I’ll just quote Vox:

“In simple terms, Pokémon Go is a game that uses your phone’s GPS and clock to detect where and when you are in the game and make Pokémon ‘appear’ around you (on your phone screen) so you can go and catch them. As you move around, different and more types of Pokémon will appear depending on where you are and what time it is. The idea is to encourage you to travel around the real world to catch Pokémon in the game. (This mix of a game and the real world interacting is known as ‘augmented reality.’

The idea is to “catch” all the virtual critters, and then train them to fight…or something.

All I really know is that everywhere I go, I see people standing around, pointing their phones at thin air. I see it in the supermarket, on the busy street in front of my house, at the mall; I even saw it in an Orange Julius line the other night. (Yes, I consumed sugar.)

Good: It Makes Kids (and Everyone Else) go Outside and Move

The good thing about Pokemon Go is that it requires people to get off their butts and go outside. I mean, kids are developing myopia (near-sightedness) from not getting enough sunlight. I guess we should be glad the creators and developers of Pokemon Go are giving kids a reason to turn off their TVs and wander out of the house, even if it’s just to spend more time on their smartphones.

And it’s not just kids who are into Pokemon Go. Plenty of adults are playing, too. If you don’t believe me, you must not have a Facebook account. I see as many grown-ups posting their Pokemon “catches” on Facebook as youngsters.

Don’t Walk Aimlessly in the Street Catching Pokemon

Unfortunately, not everybody can walk and chew gum at the same time, and even fewer can use a cell phone and not…well, accidentally kiss a car bumper. You have the driving-and-texting problem, of course, but people who are too distracted by their cell phones to safely walk across the street have made headlines in recent years, too.

Throw in a little Pokemon Go, and it’s like pouring gasoline on a forest fire.

On July 12, an Auburn, New York, man crashed his car into a tree while playing the augmented reality game, causing him minor injuries. Auburn Police Chief Shawn Butler said of the incident:

“Luckily the driver was not seriously injured but this is an example of how easily accidents can occur when someone is engaged in the game and not paying attention.” [1]

Two men tumbled off a cliff on July 13 in San Diego’s North County while playing Pokemon Go, too. The Encitas Fire Department arrived on the scene to find a man about 80 to 90 feet down the cliff, on a beach. The second man was found unconscious about 50 feet down the cliff.

Both men were transported to Scripps La Jolla Hospital. Their conditions are unknown.

The men decided to climb a fence and go Pokemon hunting despite a sign posted on the fence warning that the bluffs were unstable.

Pokemon Go has also lead to some creepy encounters and stomach-churning discoveries:

  • Police in Oregon reportedly received a call that a man had been stabbed while walking and playing the game on his phone.
  • In Wyoming, a teen stumbled across a dead man’s body floating in a river while she was searching for water Pokemon.
  • Players in Pennsylvania got locked inside a cemetery after closing while hunting for the creatures. [2]
  • In Missouri, 3 teens were arrested for armed robbery. The police believe the trio lured victims to their location using Pokemon Go. [3]

    The thing that truly disturbs me is that people are so focused on a smartphone game that they’re willing to disrespect some very sacred sites, including Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., and Ground Zero in New York City. People have even been caught playing Pokemon Go at the Auschwitz Museum and concentration camp in Poland. [4] [5] [6]
    We may see lawsuits flying over Pokemon-related incidents. But it’s not the game that’s dangerous; it’s the lack of common sense among some of the game’s players.

    Read More At:

The CIA’s ‘Pokémon Go’ App is Doing What the Patriot Act Can’t

James Corbett
July 15, 2016

Privacy advocates (that’s establishment speak for “normal human beings”) celebrated earlier this week as the House rejected yet another attempt to expand the Patriot Act’s snooping provisions. House Resolution 5606, better known by its Orwellian name, the “Anti-terrorism Information Sharing is Strength Act,” would have allowed Big Brother to access Americans’ financial information based on what the government deems to be “suspicious activity.” Given that the DHS has labeled such things as using binoculars, paying with cash, or even “appearing normal” as “possible terrorist activity” in the past (thus making pretty much every human being a possible terrorist), everyone can breathe a sigh of relief that the bill failed.

But don’t breathe that sigh too deeply, because exactly as that threat to privacy was being extinguished, another one was rising to take its place. It goes by the name of “Pokémon Go” and it is a so-called “augmented reality” game that allows users to capture, train and battle virtual Pokémon by chasing them around through real world environments with your smart phone.

pokemongoFull disclosure: Although I live in the land of anime and video games, I have never played any Pokémon games, watched any of the shows, read any of the comics or bought any of the toys associated with the franchise. I don’t know anything about it except for the name of that ubiquitous yellow Pikachu character. So if you are an out-of-touch fuddy-duddy like me, you may be surprised to learn that the “Pokémon Go” app, launched just one week ago, is the hottest thing on the planet right now.

To put into perspective just how popular this game is, it topped the App Store’s “Top Grossing” category within 24 hours of its release. Now, just one week out, it has been downloaded an estimated 7.5 million times in the US alone and is generating an estimated $1.6 million a day for Nintendo. But here’s the truly mind-boggling part: In just the first two trading days after the game’s release, Nintendo’s market value rose a staggering $7.5 billion. That’s right, folks, this is not merely a game, it is a phenomenon.

For those unfamiliar with “augmented reality” gaming, it’s a type of game where one tracks virtual characters or objects that appear on their smart phones through real world environments. The Pokémon Go game is prompting scores of people out into the streets to go chasing for wild Pokémon to capture.

It is also prompting heists, violence, hoaxes and hysteria.

pokemonilluminatiOn the more innocuous side, some restaurants and businesses are already trying to cash in on their proximity to spots with a lot of in-game activity. On the less innocuous side, robbers are now using “Lures” (which attract Pokémon to a certain spot) to lure gamers in to be mugged. One 19-year-old hunting for water Pokémon in a rural river ended up uncovering a dead body, one IT executive got fired from his job after an online Facebook tirade inspired by frustration at the game, and one YouTuber who was live streaming the game while out Ubering allegedly saw someone get murdered right in front of him…but that turned out to be a hoax.

If you’re wondering what’s going on here, you’re not the only one. It seems the internet is flipping its collective lid over this app as the line between gaming and the real world gets blurrier. But perhaps all of this pales in comparison to the game’s terms and conditions.

Firstly, the app requires an excessive amount of permissions on a user’s device, including the ability to read your contacts, find accounts on your device, and access your camera. The app even requires full access to a user’s Google account, which it can then use to read your emails, send emails from your account, browse your Google Drive documents and photos, etc. But apparently that’s just “a mistake” and will be “corrected soon.”

Secondly, the game’s privacy policy contains such gems as: “We may disclose any information about you (or your authorized child) that is in our possession or control to government or law enforcement officials or private parties.” What could go wrong?

But wait, it gets worse!

pokemonciaThe maker of the app? Niantic Labs. Never heard of them? That’s because until last year they were an internal start-up of none other than Google, the NSA-linked Big Brother company. Even now Google remains one of Niantic’s major backers. Niantic was founded by John Hanke, who also founded Keyhole, Inc., the mapping company which was created with seed money from In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s venture capital arm, and which was eventually rolled into Google Maps.

So yes, the Pokémon game currently taking the internet by storm (and scooping up all their data, including activities, movements and communications) was created by a CIA-linked businessman who gestated his company at Google.

Feeling safe yet?

As it turns out, the big, bad Big Brother Spies of the NSA and the DHS and the CIA don’t really need their Patriot Act powers, after all. All the powers-that-shouldn’t-be need to do is create a fun, shiny trinket for the people to play with and they will literally pay for their own surveillance.

Welcome to the “Matrix Economy,” where people pay to spy on themselves…and have fun doing it!

Huxley would be proud.

Read More At: