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Retired Russian major general warns that intelligence agencies could be exploiting Pokémon Go

Source: RIA Novosti

A veteran of Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) told the news agency RIA Novosti that mobile games like Pokémon Go are used to gather intelligence and facilitate “banal” espionage. According to retired FSB Major-General Alexander Mikhailov, these games present a national security threat when they fall into the hands of oblivious military personnel and state officials. 

“Imagine if these ‘pocket monsters’ appear not in some park, but in a secret facility, where a cadet or a soldier takes a photograph of the gamer on a camera. [The gamer will have appeared] entirely of his own accord and without any coercion or recruitment whatsoever. This is an ideal scheme by which to collect data for secret services because no one is paying attention. [People are too absorbed in] in the latest trend,” Mikhailov said, adding that the game's creator may not have foreseen the potential consequences of the application and did not anticipate that it could be exploited this way.

“It's unlikely that [a government deputy or military servant] would pass up the chance to exploit such a data-gathering opportunity,” he explained.

Pokémon Go—a free “augmented reality” mobile game that gives users the objective of the catching Pokémon—has become a global phenomenon almost overnight. The game has already led to a number of peculiar incidents. As a result, the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., has warned visitors against playing on its premises. Later, the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum in Poland followed suit, calling such behavior disrespectful. At least four New York City police officers have also been filmed “catching Pokémon” while on duty.