The hugely popular augmented reality video game Pokemon GO, where users chase virtual creatures in the real world with handheld devices, is creating new security worries around the world, according to a State Department report.
“What has become one of the world’s most popular mobile applications over the course of the summer is now causing headaches among security personnel in both the private sector and governments around the world,” the report by the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) says, adding that the game has “attracted controversy for contributing to security incidents and becoming a nuisance at both public and private locations.”
The internal 5-page report, “Pokemon GO Away?” was produced by OSAC, a State Department-led group that assists American companies overseas. The game was released in July in the United States and 49 other countries in the Americas, Europe and Southeast Asia.
The game is not authorized in China based on military concerns that players will discover secret facilities. However, players in China can use the game close to borders of Hong Kong, Vietnam and Laos, the report said. Chinese press reports have described the game as a U.S. intelligence tool. “Don’t play Pokemon GO!!! It’s so the U.S. and Japan can explore China’s secret bases!” wrote one user on the microblog Weibo, Reuters reported.
Players use mobile devices connected to GPS to spot and capture the virtual creatures, and the game has been downloaded some 130 million times worldwide.
Washington Times/Inside the Ring
Oct. 5, 2015