YARMOUTH, Maine—Security dealers have a new security threat to warn homeowners about: Teenagers and adults (yes, grown men and women) taking to the streets, on foot and in their cars, to capture Pokemon creatures with their phones, in and around your neighborhoods, your mailboxes (more on this later), your garages, your backyards—you name it.
If for some reason you have been living under a rock and haven’t heard, Pokemon is making a comeback in a big way, in the form of a location-based augmented reality mobile game, which means players can use the GPS and the camera on their phones to capture, battle and train virtual Pokemon who appear—superimposed—throughout the real world.
And while the smartphone app has become the most downloaded in the United States within three days of its release, stories are flooding in about the many security and privacy concerns the game raises.
Which brings me back to the story of the mailbox. A friend of mine posted on Facebook last night that a car full of teenagers driving around her neighborhood with their smart phones hanging out the car windows managed to crash into her mailbox while playing the game. The teenagers apologized saying, “Sorry, we were trying to catch Pokemon,” as if that was a defendable reason for smashing into her mailbox.
That one Facebook thread alone defines the new security concerns created by this game craze now taking hold. One person posted on that same Facebook thread how she found teenagers in her garage looking in and around her car for Pokemon, while another said he had already found some kids in his backyard hunting for the cute little creatures, and yet another said a teenager, glued to his phone and playing the game, stepped in front of her car.
And security concerns don’t just stop in your neighborhoods and homes, they extend to commercial and private properties. The game is taking people into some dangerous areas. One girl was led by the game into the woods, where she actually found a dead body, while others, lacking proper judgment—obviously—are playing the game in places such as the National Holocaust Centre and Museum, Arlington Cemetery, businesses, and in and around police departments and private properties.
And this doesn’t even include the stories about thieves using the game to lure players to unsafe places where they can rob them and possibly do them harm, as well as the privacy concerns for people who play the game, in terms of their information being shared.
So if your false-alarm rates have been unusually high the past few days, and you’re getting complaints from customers about the high number of notifications they are getting from their security systems, just blame it on Pokemon.