Fans of Pokémon Go and other mobile apps that utilize geolocation should think twice before using them, Qatar’s Communications Regulatory Authority (CRA) has said.
In a statement yesterday, the CRA cautioned that augmented reality apps can compromise safety, threaten user privacy and eat up data allowances quickly.
The body’s advice comes as several other Gulf countries issue warnings specifically about Pokémon Go, including Oman and the UAE.
In Kuwait, the interior ministry told users to avoid playing reality video games at mosques and malls, and banned it in sensitive areas like oil installations.
And this week, a cleric in Saudi Arabia went as far as reviving a 2001 fatwa against Pokémon. The non-binding ruling stated that Pokémon violates Islamic bans on gambling and “forbidden images.”
Pokémon Go is not officially available in Qatar, but has still been gaining in popularity here, with many businesses even getting caught up in the craze.
Speaking to Doha News, CRA’s Acting President Saleh Al-Kuwari said, “CRA is mainly concerned about the safety and security of our individual and business consumers and hence the alert.”
The CRA offers the following advice for users of Pokémon Go and other apps that utilize geolocation and augmented reality, including geocaching ones and traffic/navigation app Waze:
- Be aware of your surroundings: Anyone playing virtual reality games outdoors should exercise caution, especially when children are involved. CRA added that “If you use the app while driving, you are putting your and others’ lives in danger. So ensure that you don’t play while driving and obey all traffic laws.”
- Respect others’ privacy: Pokémon Go utilizes your phone’s location services and camera, and users should be careful when sharing such details with strangers while playing. Additionally, the app features “PokeStops” on public or private properties, and users could be trespassing by entering some places without permission.
- Monitor data usage: Because the app uses GPS, it could eat up your data quickly. CRA has urged customers to be aware of the data plan that they subscribe to and and if unsure, check with their service provider to avoid any bill shock.