A group of teenagers play "Pokemon Go"
A group of teenagers play "Pokemon Go"

Pokemon Go: Israeli army banned from playing game for fear of leaking sensitive information

Because the game uses location services and cameras to run, it could accidentally expose military secrets, the military has warned

Andrew Griffin@_andrew_griffin
Monday 01 August 2016 18:13

Israeli soldiers are being banned from playing Pokemon Go for fear it could expose military secrets.

The country’s military has said that soldiers and officers won’t be allowed to play the game because of security concerns.

Since the app requires access to people’s location and their camera to work, authorities are concerned that doing so could give away sensitive information like the locations of army bases and photographs of their insides.

The military is also worried about fake versions of Pokemon Go that can trick people into exposing their details. Security experts have warned that the popularity of the app is leading people to download dodgy versions of it – and so potentially expose their phone.

Israeli civilians are also being warned about the perils of chasing Pikachu and other digital critters in the game.

The Israel Cancer Association has advised players not to go outdoors to catch Pokemon creatures in the middle of the day to avoid excessive sun exposure, and other tips to protect oneself from the sun's rays.

"In the game itself, some of the Pokemon snatchers are always with a baseball hat on," the association said on its website. "In the real world too, make sure you wear a hat before going outdoors."

The AIG insurance company in Israel is taking advantage of the Pokemon craze to market its personal accident insurance policy that covers accidents caused while playing such mobile phone games. Yifat Reiter of AIG said the company has received dozens of inquiries about the accident insurance for Pokemon players.

Israel's emergency rescue service Magen David Adom said distracted Pokemon players have suffered moderate injuries.

Last week, a 15-year-old girl suffered a head injury after she fell off her bicycle while pursuing Pokemon creatures, and a 35-year-old player ran into a glass door and suffered "massive bleeding" in his legs, Magen David Adom said in a statement on its website.

"Apparently the game is not as friendly as we thought," the statement said.

For Palestinians, "Pokemon Go" is a frustrating game to play, because mobile high-speed internet services don't exist in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Under interim peace accords, Israel controls wireless networks in the area, and Israel only recently announced that it would allow high-speed internet access in the West Bank, though the technology has not yet gone into effect.

The Palestinians are among a few markets in the world that still use older 2G technology, according to the International Telecommunication Union, a U.N. agency.

Pokemon Go update: All you need to know

Naim Samsoum, 26, a Gaza-based animator, was one of the first people in the territory to download the game. He said he managed to catch three Pokemons only after installing a costly 2G internet service from the only mobile service provider in Gaza.

"I stopped because it was very expensive for me," Samsoum said.

He ran into another obstacle: the fourth Pokemon he wanted to catch was located on the premises of the Palestinian Legislative Council, an off-limits government building run by Hamas, the Islamic militant group that controls Gaza.

Additional reporting by agencies

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments