How to protect your identity playing Pokemon Go

By Andrea Peterson

Let's be honest: If you're a secret agent, you're probably staying far away from Pokemon Go because of its location-tracking gameplay.

But not everyone in the intelligence community may be able to escape the allure of catching 'em all. Luckily for them, Mercyhurst University intelligence studies professor Kristan J. Wheaton recently posted a privacy tip list on his blog that he reports was shared with him by an intelligence source.

Regardless of its origin, the list includes some practical advice for players worried about their privacy - as well as some basic safety tips, such as staying aware of your surroundings, only getting the game from official app stores, and not playing while driving. (That last one is something a few users have already learned the hard way).

Here are the privacy-specific tips the average player might not think about:

• Remember that the game needs GPS and a data connection to work - so don't play it in any areas where you don't want your location known. It's also worth remembering that your location history can make it easy to identify you, so if you play the game during your normal routine, chances are someone spying on you could figure out who you are.

• Don't use your personal Gmail account to play the game - either create a throwaway email account or sign up through the Pokémon Trainer Club. Using your normal Gmail account "not only links your personal information with your Pokémon Go activity (which includes GPS data), it could also expose your Google credentials to the app owner."

• Pick a screen name that's unique and not connected to your other online accounts. "Currently you cannot view other players or information about other players through the interface, except the trainer name and Pokémon name at gyms or the trainer name who places lures at Poké Stops. However, this feature may be added in the future," the tip sheet notes.

• Don't actually use the augmented-reality functions that make it look like the digital critter is standing right in front of you. This may seem like it defeats part of the fun of the game, but the things your camera sees may end up revealing identifying information. Also be wary of taking pictures of Pokémon in the game: The location where you took the photo will likely be embedded into the image's metadata.

- Washington Post

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