It’s no secret that Pokemon GO’s global popularity has taken cybersecurity experts by surprise, and recent news has been littered with headlines questioning the app’s safety. Now, fresh from San Diego Comic Con, director Oliver Stone has publicly taken a stand against the infectious video game.
During a panel for his film Snowden, Stone was asked about Pokemon GO given its data collection concerns. The director’s response was brusk as he called the game “a new level of invasion” and further emphasized that such technology could lead to totalitarianism. Stone said, “They are data mining every person in this room. It’s what they call surveillance capitalism.”
Taking his comments further, Stone said that apps like Pokemon GO could eventually lead humanity towards a dystopian-esque “robot society.”
Stone, of course, is not the first person to raise questions about Pokemon GO’s safety as people have already complained about the app’s intrusiveness. For instance, Pokemon GO initially required user’s to establish their game account through Google, allowing the app to access the user’s location data, email, and Internet browsing history. The scope of Pokemon GO’s data request has since been limited by Niantic, but the app still poses certain threats to personal security.
Google did verify that no user information was accessed by Pokemon GO or Niantic during the app’s bugged period, but skeptics aren’t sure if they believe the information they’ve been given. And, considering the entire plot of Snowden revolves around one whistleblower's decision to reveal hidden government secrets, people such as Stone are understandably concerned as to how Pokemon GO could be used to spy on people.
For now, fans can safely assume that Stone has no intentions of downloading Pokemon GO to his personal cell. While the director’s words certainly bear thought, it’s unlikely that players will abandon the addictive game over security concerns. I guess there’s something less threatening about having Pikachu watch over us than ‘Big Brother?’