A Pentagon source tells Inside the Ring that the Defense Department has banned the playing of the mobile video game Pokemon Go within Defense Department facilities, over concerns the popular application could facilitate foreign spying.
A memorandum sent July 19 warned all officials and defense contractors that playing Pokemon Go, the hugely popular Japanese video game, poses a potential a security risk to secure and sensitive facilities.
Pokemon Go uses the Global Positioning System satellite network for maps of areas around the handheld mobile devices that utilize the application.
Pentagon security officials are concerned the data obtained playing the game could provide pinpoint accuracy on the locations of rooms and other sensitive facilities where secrets are stored.
The game also could provide personal data on Pentagon officials with access to secrets, information that could be used in cyber attacks or spying recruitment attempts.
Pokemon Go employs Google Maps to place users within a real-world city location and then shows a figure of the game player on the map.
The player then searches for virtual Pokemon creatures that are created by the application. The cartoonlike Pokemon creatures are then captured during play.
At one point early in its release last month, a Pokemon “gym,” a central location used as a hub for activity, was visible at the Pentagon on the application. The gym later disappeared.
The Wall Street Journal reported July 13 that users who downloaded the application on iPhones were giving up massive amounts of private data, if they signed in to the app from their Google accounts.
A software update modified the amount of data the game’s developer, Niantic, Inc., can collect.
• Bill Gertz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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