Variety Magazine says that Oliver Stone does not find Pokemon GO to be light-hearted fun, but that the app could help usher in a “robot society.” Stone was asked today about the popular Pokemon GO app during his panel discussion of his new movie Snowden at the San Diego Comic-Con 2016. The director said the app was “a new level of invasion,” and he thinks it could lead to totalitarianism.
“They are data mining every person in this room,” Stone said.
“It’s what they call surveillance capitalism.”
Oliver Stone and Joseph Gordon-Levitt of 'Snowden' on Pokemon Go and surveillance https://t.co/rigOvyRaUS— TIME.com (@TIME) July 21, 2016
According to Time Magazine, Stone, along with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who plays Snowden in the film, and the rest of the film’s cast discussed privacy issues that smartphone users faced, especially those who played Pokemon GO. Snowden is currently facing charges of treason and espionage if he is ever extradited back to the U.S. from Russia. Snowden left the U.S. in 2013 after leaking surveillance secrets of the U.S. government, which left people with differing opinions of Snowden. Some call him a whistleblower and a patriot, but others have called him a traitor and a dissident.
Stone feels that the wildly popular Pokemon GO app is simply a new way for the government to keep tabs on everyone and when he voiced his thoughts of the security concerns of the app, the audience laughed, according to Time.
“It’s not really funny. What’s happening is a new level of invasion,” Stone said. “The profits are enormous here for places like Google. They’ve invested a huge amount of money in data mining – what you are buying, what you like, your behavior. It’s what some people call surveillance capitalism.”
Stone said that eventually, that information “would allow corporations to manipulate our behavior.”
“That is what they call totalitarianism.”
What Stone is talking about is what many people say Snowden exposed when he leaked those surveillance secrets. After 9/11, the government started using “mass surveillance,” which a lot of people believed to be an invasion of privacy, which is why so many feel that Snowden is not a traitor, but an American patriot who exposed the government’s illegal surveillance practices. Stone also believes that Snowden is a hero, not a traitor.
The Pokemon GO app invites its users to find Pokemon characters “all over the world,” and to do so, they must use their smartphone camera. When a Pokemon character shows up, they must “catch” the character by flicking the Pokemon ball, shown at the bottom of their screen, upward and they will capture the Pokemon. They can also battle and train their Pokemon characters.
By using their cameras, Pokemon GO players can “see” the Pokemon characters as if they are in the real world, because the characters can appear randomly onscreen while their cameras are on, thus capturing places and people around them as well. This could also be an invasion of privacy, what Stone is referring to, since most players want to post their “captives” online, and people in the background have no say as to whether they want their picture posted online, much like social media is doing already.
Variety said that Stone is not the first to voice concerns about Pokemon GO and data collection. Many pointed out early on in the app craze that Pokemon GO required access to a user’s Google account, including location data, email and browsing history. However, the developer of PG, Niantic, created a patch to the game last week that “fixed the Google account scope.”
“We recently discovered that the Pokemon GO account creation process on iOS erroneously requests full access permission for the user’s Google account,” said Niantic in a statement. “However, Pokemon GO only accesses basic Google profile information (specifically, your User ID and email address) and no other Google account information is or has been accessed or collected.”
[Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/APImages]