Update: Niantic has confirmed that this request for full access is not necessary, and they will be fixing it in an upcoming update.
Original: Pokémon GO is on fire right now, already seeing over 7.5 million downloads in the US alone just days after launch. For those who download it on an iOS device, however, you may want to take a few minutes’ break from the game to check out your permissions settings with it.
There are two ways to sign into the game: via your Google account, or your Pokémon.com account; most gamers are likely using the former, as Pokémon.com’s registration is currently down, thanks to their system being overloaded with all the signup requests. However, signing in with Google comes with its own problems, as some iOS users are finding that this method automatically gives
Pokémon GO full, unrestricted access to your Google account.
Now, this doesn’t appear to be happening with Android phones (though they have their own issues to worry about), and it also doesn’t seem to pop up with all iPhone users. However, to those it does happen to, this is a pretty big deal, as all that access could let Niantic commit some pretty terrible breaches of privacy. To quote the person who discovered and started spreading the word of this, Adam Reeve:
Let me be clear – Pokemon Go and Niantic can now:
- Read all your email
- Send email as you
- Access all your Google drive documents (including deleting them)
- Look at your search history and your Maps navigation history
- Access any private photos you may store in Google Photos
- And a whole lot more
— Adam Reeve
Obviously, Niantic has no need to gain this level of access, and I doubt many players would want them to have it either. In all likelihood, they have no intention of doing any of the things Adam listed, but the fact that they are able to is a definite red flag in this gamer’s mind. You can, of course, edit your permissions to restrict
Pokémon GO‘s access, but doing so might prevent the app from letting you sign in via your Google account.
Hopefully this was all, as Adam puts it, ”
just the result of epic carelessness,” and Niantic will alter it in their next update. In the meantime, how do you feel about Niantic having such a vast level of access to your personal files and email account? Is it enough to get you to stop playing the game, or will you plow forward on your quest to catch ’em all regardless? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!