If you are like many of us over 40, you may have dismissed news of the record breaking phenomenon of the gaming application, Pokémon Go, as a fad that will not directly impact you or your business. That may be a costly mistake. It is estimated that there are over 30,000,000 users in the United States who are using the app on their smartphones to try to “capture” Pokémons as they move around the real world, including offices, stores, restaurants, restaurants, houses of worship – it seems everywhere.
In order to use Pokémon Go, these users must install the app on their smartphone and must grant it access to contacts, location tracking, and the camera. To use the app, users must either create a new account or sign in using their Gmail. Because of the ease of using Gmail, a huge percentage of people are signing in using Gmail. Many businesses, universities and other organizations use Gmail and related enterprise solutions from Google. If your employees access Pokémon Go using the email address that your business provided them, then their email address and password are being used to access Pokémon Go. It also appears that the app is collecting location data, IP addresses and operating system information as it is being used.
Pokémon Go appears to create an elevated risk of server hacks, data breaches and malware infections.There have already been reports of malware-infested applications posing as Pokémon Go or claiming to assist players.
The risks created by Pokémon Go are not limited to all things digital. There have already been numerous reports of deaths, injuries and narrowly avoided tragedies by players who became so immersed in the game that they failed to recognize (or even created) real-world hazards. At this point it appears foreseeable that people may injure themselves or others while playing the game. If that injury occurs while using company-provided property (whether a vehicle, heavy equipment, or just the smartphone itself), the potential for liability for the employer may be very real.
If your company does not already have a smartphone usage policy in place, we recommend adopting one. We also recommend sending out a notice to employees warning them of the dangers associated with playing Pokémon Go.