Pentagon’s Pokémon orders: game must go (outside) for security reasons

Defense officials restrict playtime to outside the building, citing the risks of spies tracking facilities and information via the app

The Pentagon has a message for its staff: Pokmon stop.

Anyone working at the Arlington, Virginia, headquarters of the US Department of Defense searching for Squirtles and Snorlaxes on the Pokmon Go app has been told to do it outside the building, according to a memo obtained by the Washington Times.

As of a few weeks ago, there was even a gym where Pokmon Go players can fight and train their virtual pets inside the Pentagon. But the idea of staff playing a game that meticulously tracks the location of every player appears to have worried the largest military in the world.

Given the rules of Pentagon tours no cellphones the only people who would have been able to compete in the gym while it existed were employees. Defense officials were concerned that players inside their facilities could be tracked via the game, potentially giving away the location of rooms, and that information accessed by the game could be stolen by foreign spies.

The game originally asked for full Google account access to run properly, which gave the games developer Niantic access to users emails, their search histories, and their Google docs. Niantic said it had no use for that information and that the request had been created in error; it rolled back its privacy permissions shortly thereafter.

Niantic Labs CEO, John Hanke, worked with Googles Geo division. Geo pioneered the companys controversial mapping and photographing protocols, which have given the company a repository of images of most of the worlds mappable surfaces and was accused in 2010 of illegally and secretly collecting data from unencrypted wireless networks.

The Pentagons Pokmon gym has now been closed. Gym locations in the game were assigned by the games developer, Niantic. The Pentagon is not the only controversial gym locations. Gym stops at graves, military complexes and memorial museums have also attracted criticism.

Denz Dejawon (@DenzingDown) July 10, 2016

Gym at the Pentagon has the most accurate Pokmon to represent the US Gov. #Pokemon pic.twitter.com/dQvj2O7nZP

The White House has also been designated a gym and thus far allowed to remain so; the location has attracted fierce competition from some top players, including a high-level Exeggutor, a bipedal plant-like psychic Pokmon and a fully evolved Blastoise, a turtle with pressurized water jets on its shell. It was recently taken over by a Magikarp someone had renamed The Donald in what appears to have been an act of political satire. Magikarp is a pathetic excuse for a Pokmon that is only capable of flopping and splashing, reads the in-game description of the character. This behavior prompted scientists to undertake research into it.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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