Thursday, July 14, 2016

Privacy - Pokémon GO!!

     Be honest now.  Who hasn't downloaded the augmented reality mobile application Pokémon GO?  But, did you read the privacy notice?

     A recent study, The Biggest Lie on the Internet: Ignoring the Privacy Policies and Terms of Service Policies of Social Networking Services, revealed that almost no one reads a website's terms of use or privacy notice, or if they are "reading" such agreements that they don't examine all of the terms.  I would presume that the study's findings would be just as applicable to mobile application's terms of use or privacy notice.  In the study, two egregious terms were added to see if the participants would notice -- (1) that the participant give up its first born child, and (2) that the user data could be shared with the National Security Administration (NSA) or with any data collection agency.  Only nine (or 1.7%) participants appeared to have noticed the child assignment clause, and only one participant was concerned with the NSA data sharing clause.

     Coming back to Pokémon GO, Senator Al Franken or his staff apparently read the privacy policy, which led them to write a letter to Niantic, the game's publisher, about what information is being collected and whether too much information is being collected. In a nod to the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), the application requires a parent or guardian to create an account if the user is under 13 years old (Section 1.a.iii.).  Also, among the terms is Section 3.d., which states that all user data collected from users is a business asset that can be sold in certain cases.  This clause appears designed to avoid the negative publicity associated with the 2015 Radio Shack 2015 bankruptcy.  Radio Shack had promised not to sell its customer's information to anyone at any time but, after declaring bankruptcy, Radio Shack attempted to sell its customer data. In the end, a mediated deal was reached where the acquirer received only a limited amount of the customer data.

- Henry Park

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