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Pentagon says Pokémon Go threatens U.S. national security

The world's strongest military is no match for hunting Pikachu.


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Posted on Aug 14, 2016   Updated on May 26, 2021, 6:35 am CDT


The force behind the world’s strongest military is apparently no match against an army of virtual creatures.

The Pentagon has restricted the playing of Pokémon Go at the Defense Department’s Arlington, Virginia, headquarters amid fears that it provides a danger to national security, according to reports.

Officials with the agency told the Washington Times that the augmented reality game—which uses GPS software and cameras on players’ mobile devices—could aid foreign spies snooping for secrets and even pinpoint locations where classified material is stored. Hunting Pikachu and other cartoon critters throughout building could also provide personal data on Pentagon officials who have access to undisclosed information.

According to the Times, a July 19 memo warned all officials and defense contractors of the risks that playing Pokémon Go posed. Those forbidden from playing Pokémon Go outside the Pentagon include New York sex offenders, people at the United States Holocaust Museum, and the entire country of Iran.

A Pentagon spokesman told Vocativ that he was not aware of the department memo, but said that Pokémon Go was not on a list of approved apps for government-issued devices. “As always, we encourage our employees to use sound judgement when using their personal or private devices at and away from work,” Lieutenant Commander Patrick Evans said in an emailed statement.

The wildly popular game has now been downloaded more 100 million times, even as manycontinue to raise privacy concerns over its mobile phone application, which requires a lot of access to a user’s digital data.

Of course, as Vocativ reported last month, so do Facebook, and Twitter, and Reddit, and practically every major app on your phone. Let’s hope the Pentagon is aware of this as well.

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*First Published: Aug 14, 2016, 9:00 am CDT