Yesterday, ComicBook.com reported that Pokemon Go had blocked the largest cell phone service from Belgium from accessing the game, effectively "softbanning" an entire nation from the game. The ban came after a user sent thousands of requests to the game's servers through a prepaid SIM card, prompting Niantic to ban the cell phone service's national IP address.
Thousands of Belgian players complained that Pokemon, PokeStops and gyms no longer appeared in their games, as the offending user quickly recanted his claims and deleted his account off of Reddit. After successfully accessing the game using WiFi services, Belgian players realized the issue was with Proximus's data services.
Proximus, the cell phone service banned by Niantic Labs, posted a brief message on their Facebook page noting that their users could play Pokemon Go once again. In exchange for Niantic lifting the ban, Proximus agreed that they would no longer provide free data to Pokemon Go players using a prepaid SIM card. The Pokemon Go user who had triggered the ban had conducted his "test" in order to see if prepaid SIM cards could be used as a go around for his third party tracking application.
Pokemon Go players who have already bought a Proximus prepaid SIM card will receive "compensation" from the company for any data charges related to the game. It appears that Proximus will likewise compensate any of their other customers for Pokemon Go related data charges.
Niantic has recently stepped up its efforts to crackdown on banning. After updating its Terms of Service to expressly state that cheating would result in a ban, the game developer began going after thousands of users who had allegedly used GPS spoofers and bot programs. The company had previously shut down all bot programs by encrypting the data sent to and from Pokemon Go's servers, but third party developers were able to crack the encryption in just a few days.
Belgium is the second country to report nationwide Pokemon Go outages because of a banned IP address. Users in Brazil experienced similar issues shortly after release due to a similar incident.
Pokemon Go remains available in the United States, Europe, South America, Australia, and parts of Asia.