Pokemon Go users should safeguard their privacy by protecting their personal data, the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data (PCPD) said on Monday.

Upon the release of the augmented reality mobile game, commissioner Stephen Wong urged Hong Kong residents to beware of the application’s ability to collect players’ personal data. He added that citizens should understand an application’s privacy policy before downloading it on their smartphones.

Stephen Wong, PCPD
Stephen Wong. Photo: Privacy Commission for Personal Data.

The Pokemon Go application is available on Android and iPhone systems. The game uses a device’s camera and location detection functions to display Pokemon characters in the environment around players.

Wong said that citizens should beware of fraudulent applications and avoid downloading them from non-official platforms. The commissioner said that users should understand the risk of downloading “game guides and cheat-sheet software” developed by non-official third parties before doing so.

He added that players can consider creating new accounts in order to prevent the application from collecting personal data from users’ existing accounts and social platforms.


The PCPD said that any developers or manufacturers of gaming software must comply with the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance, which states that the company in charge of Pokemon Go must inform users and obtain permission before collecting personal data.

The ordinance also specifies that the company cannot use players’ data for any purpose other than the one specified to the user. It said the company must take necessary precautions to protect user data from unauthorised or accidental access, processing, erasure, loss or use.

The PCPD said that it can conduct an investigation into the developers and manufacturers of Pokemon Go if it has reason to believe that they have violated the ordinance.

Gene Lin is a Journalism and Computer Science student at The University of Hong Kong. He worked as a reporter for the 'LIVE: Verified Updates' during the Occupy Central protests. He is also an editor at HKU's first English-language student paper, The Lion Post.