Manila: The Philippine Army has prohibited its personnel from playing Pokemon Go inside military camps, as officials expressed concern that security at the bases could be compromised by the highly popular smartphone gaming app.
Army chief Lt Gen Eduardo Ano said a directive had been issued to all services personnel, which specifically banned soldiers and officers from accessing PokeStops and Pokemon Gyms if they are within the area of the base.
The armed services of countries such as the USA, Itan, Singapore, Israel and Canada, to name a few, have expressed concern over the possible threat posed by Pokemon Go with regards to security of military installations.
In the Philippines, officials have aired concern over the game as it involves taking photos of base facilities including areas that are restricted to public view.
The app utilises geo-positioning technology to provide the precise location where a scene was taken.
Likewise, Ano said men in uniform have also been reminded to be wary on any third party applications or services looking to assist users’ search.
“Security researchers have discovered a unique ransomware variant posing as a Pokemon Go Application for Windows,” he said.
Pokemon Go is an augmented reality game launched by Niantic two months ago in the Philippines.
The game uses phone screens and cameras as main tools to allow players to search and capture virtual critters known as Pokemon.
These critters can be found at PokeStops in the real world, in real time.
Once captured, Pokemon can be trained and brought into battle.
The app also providers “gyms,” in the game, at local landmarks and popular public areas, where players can battle with each other.
Army chief Ano also emphasised the obvious risks posed by the game to players the need to look on their smartphones while walking, running or when crossing the streets.
Further fuelling concerns, the augmented reality app is reported to have “full access” to personal Google accounts without user authorisation for those who have downloaded and installed the app.
It believed that “full access” permits game maker Niantic to read users’ email, send messages on their behalf, access Google drive documents and more.
“Military personnel are also advised to report to Intelligence Division if they can still detect Pokemon stops and gyms inside military camp for the subsequent request for their removal,” he said.