Authorities in the UAE and Kuwait have warned of security dangers associated with playing the wildly successful new smartphone app Pokemon GO.
The UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) said in a statement that playing electronic games that request for their geographical locations could be used against gamers for criminal activities.
The regulator warned that Pokemon Go “invades the privacy of users and allowing criminal elements like hackers to spy on them and know when they are in isolated places – giving them the opportunity to rob them of their possessions or cause further harm”.
The TRA also warned against the illegal download of the game before it’s made available in official application stores. The regulator said that it is currently studying all related effects, dangers, exploitations on society, when it comes to these games and applications.
“Some of these virtual reality games depend on new geo-positioning technology to track the locations of users and tap into their smartphone cameras, which makes the privacy of users open to predators,” said Eng. Mohamed Al Zarooni, TRA Director Policy and Programs Department.
“The TRA is warning all smart mobile and device users against using these applications in sensitive private places to ensure that their privacy and safety is secure.”
Adel Al Muhairi, Manager, National Computer Emergency Response Team, TRA, warned that blindly following instructions on the Pokemon game could lead to dangerous situations.
“The engrossment of game users into these games could possibly lead them to unknown places where unlawful criminals could be waiting for them. These games could also cause injury if used while driving or walking.
“The proper use of virtual reality technology offers many beneficial features and advantages, yet, if it is not used correctly, it could have negative repercussions,” Al Muhairi said.
Kuwait’s Interior ministry warned that users must resist the urge to point camera phones at Pikachu popping out in front of the Kuwaiti Emir’s palace, mosques, oil facilities or military bases.
“The danger in dealing with this game is that it involves the user photographing areas nearby with … smart phones which transfer the pictures of the sites to third parties,” Kuwait interior ministry undersecretary Suleiman al-Fahd said.
“The interior ministry has informed security men to show zero tolerance to anyone approaching such prohibited sites, deliberately or not,” Fahd said in a statement.
Officially launched in only five Western countries, Nintendo Co Ltd’s Pokemon GO is set to be released to 200 more “relatively soon,” according to the company.
Accessing the app through illegal means or foreign app stores, users in the region have become addicted to Pokemon, which involves walking in search of the “pocket monsters” which emerge superimposed on the phone screen via the camera.Now the colourful creatures have been sighted at landmarks such as Egypt’s pyramids and Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque.
Egypt’s cabinet spokesman said on the news show “90 minutes” on Wednesday that authorities were investigating Pokemon GO and sought to “minimise the dangers of these games.”
Abbas Shoman, undersecretary of Cairo’s Al Azhar mosque, the foremost seat of Sunni Muslim learning, despaired.
“It’s the utmost kind of manic harm for the future of those people enamoured with this game, searching for Pokemon through the streets … like drunkards,” he told Youm7 newspaper.
Via: Arabian Business
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