Pokemon Go is an incredibly popular game that has kids and adults wandering neighborhoods and towns seeking to catch elusive Pokemon in “augmented reality.” It’s a wonderfully addictive game that gets kids off the sofa, away from their video game console and into the real world, even if it is “augmented.” Pokemon Go was developed by a Google Alphabet spin-off company called Niantic.
To play Pokemon Go, users must first download the app onto their mobile device such as a tablet or smartphone. After installing the app, users must then register the account which can be done by linking to an existing Google account or setting up an account with Niantic.
If the user registers with their Google account, Pokemon Go and Niantic are granted full access to the entire Google acccount. As this article points out, this access will allow Niantic to:
- 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
You can check 3rd party apps using your Google account via this link.
Not only is this an important privacy issue, but it’s also a HUGE security issue. If Niantic’s system gets compromised, you may have your entire Google account exposed. This includes any documents in your Google Drive, your email messages, contacts, calendar items, etc.
My recommendation is that if you want to play Pokemon Go, DO NOT link to your Google account, but instead, use the Niantic user registration process which is called “Pokemon Trainer Club.” If you are currently using Pokemon Go and used your Google account to register, it doesn’t look like Niantic has any way to change to the Pokemon Trainer Club. So you will need to remove the Pokemon Go app from your mobile device, reinstall it and choose Pokemon Trainer Club to register a new user account.
Hopefully this is an oversight on Niantic’s behalf which will be corrected in the very near future.