Thumbnail

Privacy Evaluation for Pokémon GO

Last updated August 9, 2021

Overview

Pokémon GO is an augmented reality (AR) game that involves capturing imaginary "Pocket Monsters" in real world locations. Playing the game involves moving in the real world, and navigating to locations on a map. Within the game, current game play is focused on single users. However, because the game requires players to move about in the real world, game play potentially will involve interacting with other players, and other people who are not playing. Pokémon GO collects a range of personal and sensitive information including geolocation data, contact information, first and last name, email address, telephone number, and postal address, as well as content users share or upload, such as photos (including any metadata included in your photos and content). Lastly, the terms state that once the service obtains parental consent, a kid can use the services much like any other user.

Pokémon GO can be accessed through its website, and is available for download at the iOS App Store, and the Google Play Store. The Privacy Policy and Terms of Use used for this evaluation can be found on Pokémon GO’s website, iOS App Store, and the Google Play Store. Additionally, other policies used for this evaluation include: Cookie Policy. This evaluation only considers policies that have been made publicly available prior to an individual using the application or service.

Safety

Within the game, current game play is focused on single users. However, because the game requires players to move about in the real world, game play potentially will involve interacting with other players, and other people who are not playing. While the majority of people play the game in relative safety, there have been instances of players getting mugged, being shot at, falling off cliffs, and driving into parked police cars. While these instances are not the necessarily the fault of the vendor (and recent safety improvements include warnings that get triggered when a player is in a moving car), they are noteworthy. Players are encouraged to always be aware of their surroundings, to avoid trespassing, and never to play while driving.

Privacy

Pokémon GO collects a range of personal and sensitive information including geolocation data, contact information, first and last name, email address, telephone number, and postal address, as well as content users share or upload, such as photos (including any metadata included in your photos and content). Data can be shared broadly with third parties, but the terms do specify that personal information is sold to third parties. In addition, the terms state personal information may be used for behavioral advertising and tracking users' online activities over time and across different websites and online services.

The terms also specify an additional Kids' Privacy Notice that puts additional protections in place for children under 13 years of age. However, with parental consent, the service may also use a kid's contact information to send the kid emails and messages with promotional information about new products and features, special offers, contests, and sweepstakes, as well as other information concerning new products, events, and updates about Pokémon.

Security

The terms state that in order to access some features of the service, users will need to create a Pokémon Trainer Club account ("PTC Account"). The terms also state the service takes appropriate administrative, physical, and electronic measures to protect user data, and they also reference third party security monitoring services. However, it is not clear if the"appropriate measures include industry standard practices like encrypting data at rest, or other commonly used measures to protect user data. The terms also omit details about security standards or audits performed on third parties who receive and process user data. Additionally, the terms do not contain details on any breach notification processes.

Compliance

Pokémon GO is a consumer application designed for a mixed audience use of children, teens, and adults. The terms state the service does not condition participation for kids on the collection of more personal information than is reasonably necessary. If this application is going to be used within an educational setting, teachers and schools should evaluate how the application is used, and should make sure to have parental notification and consent in place before the application is used. Additionally, teachers should be aware that certain types of uses of the application could potentially create an educational record that would be subject to FERPA regulation. The terms state parents can request to access, review, modify, delete and export personal information.

The terms state that once the service obtains parental consent, a kid can use the services much like any other user. The service may collect from a kid the same types of personal information as collected from other users, and use and share that information with third parties for the same purposes. Pokémon's terms state they do not allow third parties to collect kids' personal data (including persistent identifiers) for behavioral advertising, amassing a profile, or any purpose other than to support its internal operations unless they have obtained explicit prior parental consent.

Data Collection
SCORE: 55%

What data does it collect?

  • Personally identifiable information (PII) is collected.
  • The categories of collected personally identifiable information are indicated.
  • Collection or use of data is limited to product requirements.
  • Geolocation data are collected.
  • Unclear whether this product collects biometric or health data.
  • Behavioral data are collected.
  • Unclear whether this product collects sensitive data.
  • Non-personally identifiable information is collected.
  • Opt-in consent is requested from users at the time personal information is collected.
  • Personal information of users is collected by a third party.
Data Sharing
SCORE: 80%

What data does it share?

  • Collected information is shared with third parties.
  • The categories of information shared with third parties are indicated.
  • The purpose for sharing a user's personal information with third parties is indicated.
  • The categories of third parties that receive personal information are indicated.
  • Data are shared for analytics.
  • Data are shared for research and/or product improvement.
  • Data are shared with third-party service providers.
  • The roles of third-party service providers are indicated.
  • Social or federated login is supported.
  • Unclear whether contractual limits are placed on third-party data use.
Data Security
SCORE: 35%

How does it secure data?

  • A user's identity is verified with additional personal information.
  • Account creation is required.
  • Parental controls or managed accounts are available.
  • Unclear whether two-factor account protection is available.
  • Unclear whether third-party contractual security protections are required.
  • Industry best practices are used to protect data.
  • Unclear whether this product limits employee or physical access to user information.
  • Unclear whether this product encrypts all data in transit.
  • Unclear whether this product encrypts all data at rest.
  • Unclear whether this product provides notice in the event of a data breach.
Data Rights
SCORE: 75%

What rights do I have to the data?

  • Users can create or upload content.
  • Unclear whether users retain ownership of their data.
  • Processes to access and review user data are available.
  • Processes to modify inaccurate data are available.
  • A data-retention policy is available.
  • Processes for the school, parents, or students to delete data are available.
  • A user's data are deleted upon account cancellation or termination.
  • Data are deleted when no longer necessary.
  • Unclear whether permissions, roles, or access controls are available to restrict who has access to data.
  • Processes to download user data are available.
Data Sold
SCORE: 30%

Is the data sold?

  • Data are not sold or rented to third parties.
  • Users can opt out from the disclosure or sale of their data to a third party.
  • User information can be transferred to a third party.
  • Unclear whether users are notified if their information is transferred to a third party.
  • Unclear whether user information can be deleted prior to its transfer to a third party.
  • Unclear whether third-party transfers are contractually required to use the same privacy practices.
  • Unclear whether user information is shared in an anonymous or deidentified format.
  • Unclear whether the vendor describes their deidentification process of user information.
  • Data are shared for research and/or product improvement.
  • Unclear whether contractual limits prohibit third parties from reidentifying deidentified information.
Data Safety
SCORE: 55%

How safe is this product?

  • Users can interact with trusted users and/or students.
  • Users can interact with untrusted users, including strangers and/or adults.
  • Profile information is shared for social interactions.
  • Personal information is displayed publicly.
  • Users can control how their data are displayed.
  • Unclear whether user-created content is reviewed, screened, or monitored by the vendor.
  • User-created content is filtered for personal information before being made publicly visible.
  • Social interactions between users are moderated.
  • Unclear whether social interactions of users are logged.
  • Unclear whether users can report abuse or cyberbullying.
Ads & Tracking
SCORE: 60%

Are there advertisements or tracking?

  • Data are shared for third-party advertising and/or marketing.
  • Traditional or contextual advertisements are displayed.
  • Behavioral or targeted advertising is displayed.
  • Data are collected by third-party advertising or tracking services.
  • Data are used to track and target advertisements on other third-party websites or services.
  • Data profiles are created and used for data enhancement, and/or targeted advertisements.
  • The vendor can send marketing messages.
  • The vendor does provide promotional sweepstakes, contests, or surveys.
  • Users can opt out of traditional, contextual, or behavioral advertising.
  • Users can opt out or unsubscribe from marketing communications.
Parental Consent
SCORE: 95%

Can I provide parental consent?

  • Intended for children under 13.
  • Personal information from children under 13 years of age is collected online.
  • Intended for parents or guardians.
  • Vendor does have actual knowledge that personal information from users under 13 years of age is collected.
  • Children's privacy is applicable.
  • Parental consent is required.
  • Parental consent is limited with respect to third parties.
  • Parents can withdraw consent for the further collection of their child's information.
  • Children's personal information is deleted if collected without parental consent.
  • Parental consent notice and method for submission are provided.
School Purpose
SCORE: 0%

Is the product intended for school?

  • Unclear whether intended for students.
  • Unclear whether personal information or education records are collected from preK-12 students.
  • Unclear whether intended for teachers.
  • Unclear whether this product is primarily used by, designed for, and marketed toward students in grades preK–12.
  • Unclear whether the product creates education records.
  • Unclear whether this product provides notification of a contract or additional rights.
  • Unclear whether this product designates the vendor as a school official.
  • Unclear whether this product transfers parental consent obligations to the school or district.
  • Unclear whether the vendor indicates FERPA parental consent exceptions.
  • Unclear whether this product discloses directory information.

Common Sense Standard Privacy Report (SPR)

The standard privacy report (SPR) displays all the privacy practices from a product's policies in a single, easy-to-read outline. The report shows a green check mark for better privacy practices and an orange alert for risky or unclear practices. This alert indicates that more time should be focused on these particular details prior to use.

About Privacy Evaluations

The privacy evaluations have been designed with the help and support of a consortium of schools and districts across the United States. These evaluations are designed to help educators make informed decisions about the potential privacy implications of educational technology used to support teaching and learning.

Our core evaluation criteria will always be freely available. People are encouraged to read the questions we use and our information security primer. Vendors are encouraged to use our questions and the information security primer to self-evaluate. You can also learn more about our evaluation process. Please be in touch with any questions or feedback.