Pokemon GO and Legal Issues
Cyberlaw Expert and Conference Director, Pavan Duggal, has highlighted various legal and policy issues concerning Pokemon GO in his exclusive interview conducted by Business Standard.The said interview is extracted below:-
Pokemon GO has brought to the fore need to update India's Legal FrameworkNikita Puri, July 16th 2016 for Business Standard Read Full Article
For some, Niantic’s mobile-based game, Pokemon GO, has come as a form of exercise as it draws them out of their homes to hunt for make-believe creatures of all shapes and sizes, or Pokemon, which can be seen on smartphones once you download the game. But when a sign like “Don’t Pokemon GO and Drive” begins to appear alongside “Don’t Drink and Drive,” you know you have a major challenge to address. While the game, which has become a sensation within a week of its launch, hasn’t even been released in India yet, enthusiasts have opted for unofficial versions and joined in on the international craze. Pavan Duggal, who specialises in cyber law, speaks to Nikita Puri about proceeding cautiously. Excerpts:
What has made Pokemon GO so popular?
The game is a fascinating paradigm for a majority of users who have not yet had a first-hand experience with augmented reality. The kind of adoption and the rate of penetration with which the game has progressed has only surprised people's expectations. It has a very intoxicating ability.
Why has the game become a cause for concern?
People get so engrossed in the game that they lose track of their actual world-surroundings. People have been walking into dark alleys or into traps and getting robbed. They have not been able to understand the thin line between virtual reality and the real world. It is possible that they'll be subjected to loss and bodily injury if they are just going hunting for the Pokemon and are not mindful of the potholes on the road.
The game has not been officially launched here but a lot of pirated APG versions are available. And a number of these have spyware and malware so you have to be careful when you download these versions. Be careful not just about malwares, but also the data on your phones.
Does the game risk one's privacy?
It's a big threat to personal privacy primarily because you are exposing all your personal data when you download this game. Most have not understood the terms and conditions of the game which clearly say that they will be accessing your GPS location and details pertaining to your Google account. This effectively means that they will be able to read all your emails, and access your Google documents and so on.
Location is your primary sensitive data in today's time. Location information is taken at a premium today because it can be sold and shared. When we share our locations, the cyber security-aspect becomes very vulnerable. If your identity and location is shared, then it is far easier for a criminal to target you for whatever purpose. So there are issues of privacy that people have not yet woken up to.
Further, this game could also have unintended consequences - a robber was found playing this game after the robbery and was caught by the police in the US. Similarly, a girl found her boyfriend cheating on her while playing this game. I'd encourage users to read the terms and conditions - if they are convinced that they can share their information, then they can go ahead and do so.
Can such games be a potential threat to national security?
It is possible that a gamer could be intruding into properties belonging to the government or which fall under the classified category. Your location is already being shared while you play it, and if you are also beaming a location that could potentially be a government-classified property, it could have a ramification on national security or even national sovereignty - ultimately this game is run on servers located in the US and users shouldn't commit acts that could jeopardise India's sovereignty or national security.
We can't take up the issue with makers of Pokemon GO because the official version has not even been released in India, yet. And the versions being used here are anyway pirated, which automatically make them a violation of the intellectual property rights of the company.
What needs to be done in the time that India gets an official version of the game?
The game's popularity brings to centre stage the need for India to update its legal provisions. This game has demonstrated how augmented reality will start becoming a part of our regular lives in the coming times and, therefore, the legal policy pertaining to augmented and virtual reality will have to be properly addressed under the Indian law.
The Information Technology Act of 2000 is completely silent on these issues. As people keep playing these games, they are likely to meet with accidents and they would like to look for legal remedies to address any loss, physical or otherwise. There's bound to be a disconnect if effective legal remedies are not in place. This is a wake-up call for all of us. An appropriate legal framework has now become an important priority.