CRA Alerts Consumers to Exercise Caution About Apps that Use Location Services, Personal Data

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

CRA advises consumers to keep safety first and foremost on their mind while using apps like Pokémon GO

The Communications Regulatory Authority (CRA) has observed media reports, social media comments and stray incidents where safety and privacy of individuals and businesses may have been compromised while using augmented reality apps that use geolocation services.

In this regard, CRA would like to alert all citizens and residents in Qatar to exercise caution while using apps like Pokémon Go, Geocaching, Waze, etc. Pokémon GO app, although not available officially in Qatar, uses mapping software to create a virtual reality game, and allows users to “catch” the game characters on smart phone screens at various physical locations.

As consumers of communications services, please be informed of the following when using such apps and remember to keep safety first and foremost on your mind:

Stay alert, stay safe: The safety of the users, especially children, is of utmost importance and it must be ensured that virtual reality combined with outdoor locations entails exercising same precautions as you would in any other outdoor setting. The app urges users to be aware of their surroundings while walking around in public. And, if you use the app while driving, you are putting your and others’ lives in danger. So ensure that you don’t play while driving and obey all traffic laws.

Be aware of privacy issues: The app accesses other applications in your smart phone – location services, camera, etc. Be careful when sharing your locations details with strangers through the app. Besides, be aware that although the app features “PokeStops” on public or private properties, you should be respectful of others’ privacy as unauthorized entry to private property or official buildings / areas may be considered trespassing. It is safer if you don’t go to unknown areas.

Know your data plan & monitor your usage: The app works with GPS which means it may use a lot of data. Be aware of your data plan, and if unsure, check with your service provider to avoid bill shocks.

CRA takes its consumer protection mandate very seriously and we will continue to engage with relevant external authorities and service providers to increase customer benefits while safeguarding their rights.