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!

Our Verdict

Tyler Meehan
Tyler is verbose. He apologizes for that. Tyler "Alpha" Meehan's first experiences with gaming came from his cousins' NES and the Mario games that went with it. They were fun, but merely brief distractions while on the road (yes, they had an NES in their car. It was awesome, and he was jealous). Still, nothing compared to his Star Wars books. OR SO HE THOUGHT. His love of gaming truly began when he and a friend came together to beat the Nintendo 64's Mission: Impossible, a challenge so intense that Tyler bought his own console to facilitate its defeat. Upon being introduced to Ocarina of Time (an introduction that included, among other spoilers, the freakin' final boss fight. GEEZ, PHILIP), his lot in life as a Nintendo fanboy was sealed in stone. His ability to recall absolutely useless video game information served him well during the Pokémon craze, and helped him aid numerous friends in their own endeavors to defeat games like Majora's Mask and Kingdom Hearts. Those were good days. Good days... The Zelda series soon became his primary obsession fascination, but additionally he was soon introduced to text-based RPGs by one of his schoolmates. Discovering that he had a knack for the English language and a strong love of telling stories, he started putting effort into writing his own storylines. That all got put onto the backburner, though, when he discovered the Zelda online community, particularly The Desert Colossus's Hyrule Adventures 2, an online text RPG based in the Zelda world. He joined under the pseudonym of "Alpha" and soon became one of their lead writers, going so far as to join the moderator staff and, in a year's time, become the head administrator of the RPG. During this time, Twilight Princess was released, and he joined several other TDCers in posting their thoughts on the game - his "Twilight Impression Posts" lasted for several months and were well received by the community. Staying on even after the webmaster was forced to retire, he continued to provide occasional news posts and articles for the site, until it became clear that the site was dying. He turned his focus back to Hyrule Adventures 2 and his college studies, until the latter forced him to stop work on the former. Tyler graduated a few years ago from the Georgia Institute of Technology with a Bachelors in Computer Science, and now serves as a software engineer for a rather large company that he doesn't feel like telling you all about (he's a jerk like that sometimes). His love of gaming and writing still strong, he joined the Zelda Informer staff in early 2013 to write a walkthrough for The Wind Waker, but later began using his English skills to become ZI and Gamnesia's first dedicated Copy Editor. When not trying to get Brian to shut up in Gamnesia's group chat, he spends his time writing Zelda fanfiction, planning some original fantasy stories that he may or may not try to publish some day, and playing games on his Wii, PlayStation 3, and Nintendo 3DS. He intends to get a WiiU sooner or later, probably around when Pikmin 3 comes out, but has little interest in the other consoles currently. Also, he can't stand writing bios in first-person. Talking about yourself like that is just...weird.


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