Signed into Pokémon Go via Google? Why you may want to stop playing immediately

Posted at 10:28 AM, Jul 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-12 10:27:50-04

NEW YORK, NY – JULY 11: Sameer Uddin plays Pokemon Go on his smartphone outside of Nintendo’s flagship store, July 11, 2016 in New York City. The success of Nintendo’s new smartphone game, Pokemon Go, has sent shares of Nintendo soaring. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

It’s the game that has Nintendo’s stock skyrocketing and devoted players wandering into Australian police stations, but Pokémon Go players might be less enthusiastic if they found out the price of admission.

Those who downloaded the game to an iPhone and chose to sign in via Google gave the game’s developer, a company called Niantic Labs, complete access to their Google accounts.  Those who chose to sign in with a Pokémon “Trainer Club” account are not affected.

There’s no evidence that Niantic is playing “catch ’em all” with players’ personal info, but full access might make it possible.  The setting grants a third party access to one’s search history, email contents, Google Photos, Google drive docs and much more, according to the search engine’s help site.  The sign-in issue is mostly affecting iOS users, but a few Android owners have reported similar problems, according to Engadget.

To take permission away from Niantic, players can follow this link and adjust settings.

The company sent a statement to Engadget confirming the reports, saying that the “Pokémon Go account creation process on iOS erroneously requests full access permission for the user’s Google account.”  Niantic says they only access basic profile information – user ID and email address – and doesn’t collect or access any other information.

Niantic says they are working to issue a fix, but players may want to be cautious in the meantime.

See the company’s full statement below:

We recently discovered that the Pokémon GO account creation process on iOS erroneously requests full access permission for the user’s Google account. However, Pokémon GO only accesses basic Google profile information (specifically, your User ID and email address) and no other Google account information is or has been accessed or collected. Once we became aware of this error, we began working on a client-side fix to request permission for only basic Google profile information, in line with the data that we actually access. Google has verified that no other information has been received or accessed by Pokémon GO or Niantic. Google will soon reduce Pokémon GO’s permission to only the basic profile data that Pokémon GO needs, and users do not need to take any actions themselves.