The UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has warned that criminals could exploit the popular Pokemon Go mobile game.
In a statement, the TRA warned that mobile games that request a user's geographical location could be used by criminals to spy on people and lure them to areas where they plan to attack them.
Mohamed Al Zarooni, the TRA's policy and programs department director, said: "Some of these virtual reality games depend on new geo-positioning technology to track the locations of users and tap into their smart phone cameras, which makes the privacy of users open to predators.
"The TRA is warning all smart mobile and device users against using these applications in sensitive private places to ensure that their privacy and safety is secure.”
Al Zarooni noted that virtual reality games can be entertaining and educational if used in the proper way, as they can be used to discover and learn about new places.
The TRA also cautioned that some of these games have not reached official application stores in the UAE. It said it was studying all related effects, dangers and exploitations related to these games and applications.
The warnings came at the same time as reports of a couple being threatened at gunpoint while playing Pokemon Go in a town park south of Sydney, Australia.
Police there blamed the game for a wave of crimes, traffic violations and complaints.
Two masked men carrying a rifle held up the couple who had gone to the park in the small town Wednesday night to search for virtual “pocket monsters”.
The wildly popular mobile app, which is based on a 1990s Nintendo game, has created a global frenzy as players roam the real world looking for cartoon monsters and was launched in Australia last week.
Separately two 17-year-olds were fined for playing the game while behind the wheel in a Sydney suburb, two days after police in Western Australia state said a patrol vehicle had to swerve to avoiding hitting a girl who was looking down at her phone while playing the game.
“We turned round and spoke to her and she said she was addicted to the game,” acting Sergeant Daniel Fitzgerald told Perth local newspaper group Community News.
“Pokemon is dangerous,” the police force tweeted after the incident.
The Los Angeles Times meanwhile reported that two men fell off a bluff while playing the smartphone game in California, while another player was stabbed by group of men in a park recently.