Skip to navigationSkip to content

Pokémon Go can read your emails and view your search history if you log in with Google

Pokemon Go is displayed on a cell phone in Los Angeles on Friday, July 8, 2016. Just days after being made available in the U.S., the mobile game Pokemon Go has jumped to become the top-grossing app in the App Store. And players have reported wiping out in a variety of ways as they wander the real world, eyes glued to their smartphone screens, in search of digital monsters. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
AP Photo/Richard Vogel
Double check those security settings.
By Alice Truong

Deputy editor

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Update: Pokémon Go developer Niantic said it mistakenly asked iOS users for more permissions than intended and collected only basic user information from their Google accounts. Read the full story here.

To play Pokémon Go, the mobile game that’s taken the internet by storm since its release on July 6, you need to log in with an account. There are two ways to do this: You can create a user name on the Pokémon Trainer Club, or you can use your existing Google account.

The latter is likely the more popular option. Not only is it simpler, but due to server issues plaguing the mobile game in its first few days, it was near impossible to create a Pokémon Trainer account.

Many players on iOS, however, didn’t realize that by going the Google route, they were also granting the game full access to their Google accounts. This means the game could read players’ emails, access their Google Drive documents, and view their search history, according to security researcher Adam Reeve.

Update: In an interview with Gizmodo, Reeve said he isn’t “100 percent sure” that Pokémon Go can read users’ emails. Quartz has reached out to Google to clarify what full account access entails.

Permissions granted.

Developers have the option of asking to view only basic profile information. According to Google’s support page, users should only grant full access to applications they “fully trust” because that setting lets apps ”see and modify nearly all information in your Google account.”

Reeve said the game developer Niantic (a spinoff of Google, interestingly enough) had “no need” for full access. He’s since deleted the game and revoked the game’s access to his Google account. (PSA: Simply deleting the app from your phone isn’t enough. You’ll have to specifically revoke the game’s permission by following this link.)

“I really wish I could play, it looks like great fun, but there’s no way it’s worth the risk,” Reeve wrote.

📬 Kick off each morning with coffee and the Daily Brief (BYO coffee).

By providing your email, you agree to the Quartz Privacy Policy.