Lawmakers question Pokemon Go’s impact on data usage

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Lawmakers on Wednesday asked the the company that makes hit game “Pokemon Go” what they were doing to make sure players don’t run up high mobile data charges using the application.

The letter to Niantic CEO John Hanke was signed by the top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (N.J.), as well as Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.).

{mosads}”In addition to issues related to the game being played inappropriate locations, safety, and privacy, recent reports suggest that playing Pokemon Go could exhaust a consumer’s available monthly mobile data,” they wrote.

“Pokemon Go encourages players to move out of the range of their home Wi-Fi network while their phones continuously communicate with its servers and actively consumer users’ data allotments during play.”

The game requires players to roam around the real world looking for digital Pokémon, a modern update to the classic card and video games. 

The lawmakers specifically asked the company what practices it had in place “to minimize the amount of data consumers use when playing” the game and whether the company was working with wireless providers to make sure that customers aren’t running up huge data bills.

The letter comes despite the fact that some have argued the program does not use up particularly large amounts of wireless data. Certain mobile apps are already considered data-intensive, including social media apps and streaming music products.

Niantic did not respond to a request for comment.

“Pokemon Go” has soared in popularity since it was released in the United States earlier this month. The augmented reality game takes advantage of GPS technology to merge the virtual and real worlds.

The surging interest in the game quickly raised questions about its data collection and the privacy of its users. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) said in a letter he was “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.”

The game later toned down its access to users’ Google accounts.

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