The suddenly vast scale of Pokemon Go adoption is matched by the game’s aggressive use of personal information. Unlike, say, Twitter, Facebook, or Netflix, the app requires uninterrupted use of your location and camera — a “trove of sensitive user data,” as one privacy watchdog put it in a concerned letter to federal regulators.
All the more alarming, then, that Pokemon Go is run by a man whose team literally drove one of the greatest privacy debacles of the internet era, in which Google vehicles, in the course of photographing neighborhoods for the Street View feature of the company’s online maps, secretly copied digital traffic from home networks, scooping up passwords, email messages, medical records, financial information, and audio and video files.
Before Niantic Labs CEO John Hanke was the man behind an unfathomably popular smartphone goldmine, he ran Google’s Geo division, responsible for nearly everything locational at a time when the search company was turning into much more, expanding away from cataloging the web and towards cataloging every city block on the planet.
Hanke landed at Google after his wildly popular (and admittedly very neat) CIA-funded company Keyhole, which collected geographic imagery, was acquired in 2004 and relaunched as Google Earth in 2005. more