Heard on the Hill

Franken Thinks Pokemon Go Knows Too Much About You

Minnesota Democrat sends letter to game maker about data its collecting from players

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minnesota, wants Niantic Labs, maker of Pokemon Go, to answer his concerns about user information by Aug. 12. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Al Franken isn't worried about catching Pokemon Go — he's worried about Pokemon Go catching all your data.  

Franken, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Privacy and Technology Subcommittee, wrote a letter to John Hanke, CEO of Niantic Labs, requesting information about Pokemon Go , the app that is the hottest thing since, well, Pokemons.  

[Pikachu's in the House] “While this release is undoubtedly impressive, I am concerned about the extent to which Niantic may be unnecessarily collecting, using, and sharing a wide range of users' personal information without their appropriate consent,” Franken wrote.  

Forbes reports the game had more than 7.5 million downloads in less than a week.  

The former "Saturday Night Live" writer and performer  cited reports that the Niantic “can collect a broad swath of personal information from its players” through the game and expressed his privacy concerns, especially for children.  

“Pokemon Go's privacy policy specifically states that any information collected — including a child's — ‘is considered to be a business asset’ and will thus be disclosed or transferred to a third party in the event that Niantic is party to a merger, acquisition, or other business transaction,” he wrote.  

Franken requested responses to inquiries about collecting users’ personal information and Pokemon Go’s requests to access mobile capabilities in users’ phones. He also asked that Niantic change the game to allow users to opt-in if they want to share personal information, instead of requiring them to opt-out, as the game is configured now.  

He also asked for a list of service providers with whom Pokemon Go shares user information, why it shares information, how children’s information can be protected and how users’ Google accounts used to sign in can be protected.  

Franken wants Hanke to answer his questions by Aug. 12.

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