ABU DHABI: The United Arab Emirates warned on Friday that criminals could exploit users of the smash hit virtual reality Pokemon Go game and other apps to hack their phones and spy on their movements.
— TRA UAE (@TheUAETRA) July 15, 2016
The warning comes after Australian police said that a couple playing Pokemon Go were threatened at gunpoint in a park south of Sydney and blamed the game for a wave of crimes, traffic violations and complaints.
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.
The game requires the phone to transmit its location via GPS and uses its camera which the UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority warned “violates the user’s privacy” and could lead “criminals” to spread viruses.
The TRA said Pokemon Go could result in users being spied upon and urged players not to activate their phone cameras at home or in other private areas.
Pokemon Go works in the UAE but cannot yet be downloaded from local app stores.
The National daily reported this week a warning from Abu Dhabi police of the dangers of using mobile apps while walking in the city.
The TRA said that it is still “reviewing the effects and dangers that… these games and apps have on society” before making a decision on whether to release Pokemon Go locally.