back to article Pokemon Go becomes Pokemon No as games biz Niantic agrees to curb trespassing addicts

The programmers behind augmented-reality pest-chasing Pokemon Go have settled a class-action lawsuit in the US brought by angry homeowners who claimed the video game encouraged people to trespass on their land. One owner of an oceanfront condo in Florida was confused, and then infuriated, when hundreds of players "acting like …

  1. JLV

    >if someone is standing stockstill and repeatedly swiping up or tapping madly on their screen chances are they are lost in the world of Pokemon Go.

    that, or seeking to procreate...

    which has a nearly empty set intersection with Pokemon.

    my coat, yes.

  2. NoneSuch Silver badge

    American Justice At It's Best.

    Well at least the lawyers are taken care of.

    1. HelpfulJohn

      Re: American Justice At It's Best.

      It is a virtual certainty that in every legal action the lawyers on every side are *always* taken care of.

      They set up the game's rules, they are never going to make it work to their own detriment.

      A similar schema works within the world of politicians and yet another in the milieu of religion.

    2. Crazy Operations Guy

      Re: American Justice At It's Best.

      Makes sense, 'lawyer' was the most common professional among the 'Founding Fathers", after all.

  3. LeahroyNake

    They had to go and ruin it

    The locations of all pokestops and gyms were taken from the predecessor game Ingress. The locations and pictures were created / uploaded by players.

    This was never an issue before they released Pokemon Go and while it is more popular it also attracts a much younger player base. It seems that these younger players need educating regarding private property etc.

    It is against Niantic (the game developer) guidelines to create in game locations / portals, pokestops, gyms or whatever they are also called in Harry Potter on private property.


    'If you come across any of the following, please reject it as a low quality Portal by rating a 1 star for the “Should this be a Portal?” question:

    Candidates on the grounds of primary/secondary schools

    Candidates on private residential property (including farms)' etc

    Full guidelines here

    Also Ingress and Pokemon Go have had warnings not to trespass on the log in screen for as long as I can remember, they rotate them with' do not play while driving ' and some other sensible advice for idiots with no common sense.

    Lastly there has been a removal mechanism available before this trial, before Pokemon you could report the locations with Ingress.

    1. JohnFen

      Re: They had to go and ruin it

      And yet, none of that is effective. Pokemon Go appears to be a classic "attractive nuisance" to me. If Niantic can't make the game in a way the eliminates that, then the game shouldn't exist.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: They had to go and ruin it

        Maybe... But also people shouldn't break the law or cause a nuisance just to play a game.

        I do wish people would take some personal responsibility nowadays.

        1. wayne 8

          Re: They had to go and ruin it

          That'll never happen.

          As long as there are few consequences, or some other entity/reason that can be blamed for their incorrect behavior, very few will take personal responsibility for their actions.

          Perpetual victim-hood.

      2. Craig 2

        Re: They had to go and ruin it

        "If Niantic can't make the game in a way the eliminates that, then the game shouldn't exist."

        Try applying that rationale to other areas and you'll realize just how dumb it is:

        If roads can't be made in a way that eliminates speeding, nobody should be able to drive.

        If knives can't be made in a way that eliminates murder, nobody should own knives.

        etc.. etc..

        We're surrounded by hundreds of situations that can be abused, but the vast majority of people don't. You only have to read some of the crazy things people have wanted outlawed just because it personally pissed them off.

        1. JohnFen

          Re: They had to go and ruin it

          "Try applying that rationale to other areas"

          That rationale is already applied to lots of other areas, in the form of the concept of the "attractive nuisance".

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: They had to go and ruin it

            Attractive nuisance cases are B.S. in pretty much every other application as well.

            It's usually applied in the other direction, and could be so here. For example if you trespass on somebody's property to play Pokemon Go and stub your ego, you could sue the land owner under attractive nuisance doctrine.

            Frankly, anybody who is in favor of such torts lacks the concept of personal responsibility and should not be allowed a voice in policy.

        2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          Re: They had to go and ruin it

          But you've just made the OP's point. Roads and knives *are* made and regulated in such a way that only a miniscule fraction of their users abuse them in the way you describe. So are the hundreds of other situations that can be abused. The suggestion in the article is that Niantic's program logic and supervision are less than they might be and that in consequence the level of abuse is much higher than it reasonably needs to be.

        3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: They had to go and ruin it

          As is generally the case with "slippery slope" arguments, all you're doing is reductio ad absurdum.

          Roads and knives have critical functions with tremendous value to society. We accept the cost of misuse (beyond what's feasible to mitigate) because of that value. The same is not true of PG or any other specific game, or even the genre of public-spaces-mobile-AR games.

          While I'm not personally advocating for abolishing PG (I don't play it myself, but I have friends who do - all of whom, by the way, are productive, law-abiding members of society, and most of whom in fact are parents), the argument that anything can be misused is an ineffective sophomoric dodge.

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: They had to go and ruin it

      The locations of all pokestops and gyms were taken from the predecessor game Ingress. The locations and pictures were created / uploaded by players.

      Definitely not all, a few at the beginning. There is a system for nominating locations and new ones have been adding for years, whilst some have disappeared.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: They had to go and ruin it

        Yes, they all still come from Ingress. They use the same database of POI and if a new portal is created in Ingress, then it appears in Pokemon Go* the next working day at about 18:00 UK time.

        Submissions of POI from Pokemon Go (in the test areas) end up in Ingress' OPR along with all of the other Ingress Portal submissions.

        * Ingress and Pokemon Go use different "cell" sizes for what is a valid in-game POI. Ingress allows new POIs that are much closer together than Pokemon Go.

    3. Dapprman
      Thumb Down

      Re: They had to go and ruin it

      Not quite so - I was playing Ingres since the beta and already had been finding issues in portal (stops and gyms in PoGo) back then. I did report a few including one in the children's ward of a hospital - Niantic were not interested in doing anything about this.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: They had to go and ruin it

        Yep, that is/was the issue and it boils down to the person reviewing the report not having a lot of information to go on and not a lot of time to do digging. Niantic are between a rock and a hard place - malicious portal removal requests are a regular occurrence and do nothing to help xfac relationships in Ingress, but equally things that should be removed get left.

        There is an appeals mechanism where you can provide more info (used to be on g+), but it dumps more work on the players.

        1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

          Re: not a lot of time to do digging

          That is not an excuse. If there is not enough time to check, then that point should not be authorized to show up, period.

          Next, you start Google Earth in the morning and use it to check the coordinates coming in. That should take about five seconds.

          Oh, the data coming in does not mention GPS coordinates ? Your fault for sucking at defining locations.

          No new point should go active before being checked. End of.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: not a lot of time to do digging

            They are checked, by the players - it is a crowd-sourced and verified data set now. When reviewing a candidate, players see a an overhead map view and satellite view. They also see the portal photo that has been submitted (and more recently a supporting photo), a title, a description (and more recently a justification) and (if available) the nearest street-view image.

            The problem is Streetview does not have complete coverage (think Germany) and it can be years out of date. Streetview also has user-submitted content and it is not unheard of to fake/missplace 360-photospheres for portal submissions. Streetview also does not necessarily make it clear whether a property is single-family dwelling, a condo/flats or a commercial premises.

            Removals, on the other hand are reviewed in house, BUT again they have the limited streetview, etc. They aren't going to go googling or digging into council/city/county/local-authority land usage or planning records.

            Niantic used to review every submission, but they did not have enough staff and it took years to get decisions.

            Given that Niantic's bbusiness model relies on being able to monetise the portal/pokestop data, they want as much as possible. Pokemon/Ingress/Harry Potter is just a way to incentivise their data collectors and get some extra from in-game purchases.

            1. JohnFen

              Re: not a lot of time to do digging

              "They are checked, by the players - it is a crowd-sourced and verified data set now."

              Clearly, that system is not working well enough.

          2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

            Re: not a lot of time to do digging

            It's an example of "the world does not owe you a business model". Part of the attraction of the game is that you get to play it outside in the real world. That means that Niantic are getting a benefit from augmenting parts of reality that they haven't paid for. If they can't reap that benefit without annoying the true owners of the landscape assets, they should find a new game.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: They had to go and ruin it

          what exactly are "malicious portal removal requests?". How is that even a thing?

          The problem my company had was also in hospitals - but with people trying to get into restricted areas.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: They had to go and ruin it

            So, in Ingress, things are a lot more competitive along team lines than in Pokemon. Sometimes, one side has access to or gets access to a portal that is harder for the other side to get to and uses it as a field anchor. Some (and it is a small proportion) people on the other side may not like this and instead of making some effort to get to the portal to take it down legitimately, so they report it as invalid in an effort to have it removed.

            Part of it is because cross-faction relationships can be really bad in some areas and part of it is probably the age old "it's not fair that X has it when I don't".

            There have been cases of players on both sides fabricating "evidence" to have a portal removed, and there have been some that have been removed, the removal has been appealed & it restored, only for it to be removed again.

            Yes, part of this is players being bad, but Niantic don't help matters too much.

          2. Brad Ackerman

            Re: They had to go and ruin it

            Niantic doesn't give a dog's wet shit about portals in restricted areas. There are five on the NSA headquarters compound (seriously restricted access) and more on Ft. Meade proper (slightly easier to get in but still not an open post). There are a half-dozen at Guantánamo Bay, which they can't possibly not know is restricted. NASA facilities have portals, too. CIA headquarters may be the only closed-access USG facility that doesn't have at least one.

            1. Danny 14 Silver badge

              Re: They had to go and ruin it

              they are probably there to catch the spoofers :-D

              mines the one with Smali patcher and Magisk...

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: They had to go and ruin it

      private RESIDENTIAL property is the key point there. Being an Ingress player and OPR reviewer, the discussions about what constituted private residential property on g+ and other chats related to the game were never ending.

      TL;DR is that Niantic;'s stance is anything up to and including the public side of a boundary wall/fence counts (so artwork on a wall surrounding a house is a no-no).

      The problem is players keep submitting crap, other players let it through because Niantic are bad at communicating with their players and then when you try to get it removed in-game, Niantic don't remove it without an appeal (even if it is clearly on someone's house).

      Yes, this is ultimately on Niantic as they are not supervising the process properly, but Ingress players aren't helping matters.

      N.B. it should be noted that Niantic used to review portals themselves before they introduced OPR. They made a lot of mistakes as well.

    5. HelpfulJohn

      Re: They had to go and ruin it

      "... sensible advice for idiots with no common sense."

      Have idiots lacking common sense *ever* taken sensible advice?

    6. Diogenes

      Re: They had to go and ruin it

      There is a gym located outside my classroom, and I often have students wandering around. I use the opportunity to try to sell them on my subjects (computing , natch)

    7. zb

      Re: They had to go and ruin it

      Younger players? A couple of days ago I came across a group of at least 20 players and nearly all of them looked to be 40+.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: They had to go and ruin it

        That's closer my experience too. While I don't play the game, I have family and friends who do, and a couple of times I've gone out with them on PG community events for the exercise and to help entertain their kids (who want to come along, and play a bit, but then get bored). Most of the people we run into playing are in their 30s or older.

        These are also surprisingly social events - during the couple I attended, I'd estimate that the people I saw spent less than a quarter of the time looking at their devices, and the rest socializing.

  4. Notas Badoff

    Octo-mon found

    I offer this blank-faced comment on humanity: "Fascinating."

    Trooper finds driver stopped on shoulder using eight phones for 'Pokemon Go'

    1. Trygve Henriksen

      Re: Octo-mon found

      I've heard of people bringing several phones with them when they're visiting other countries. The phones belongs to friends who also play the game, and they've sent them off so that he can catch pokemon with them using their accounts. It's not enough for some to trade for pokemon that can't be found locally.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Octo-mon found

        It is normal for them to send their game login details abroad to a trusted person so that the regional characters can be caught on their account.

  5. doublelayer Silver badge


    I haven't been affected by people doing this, but in the hypothetical situation, how ethical or unethical do you think it would be for me to set up a device that catches requests for WiFi and establishes connections that don't work to mess up the many phones set to prefer known WiFi networks over cellular, then put it so it covers my yard but doesn't have enough power to extend outside of it. Is that too untargeted?

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Ethics

      As public WiFi often has no internet behind it, or terrible slow internet behind it it is normal for people to switch it off in public so it doesn’t auto connect.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ethics

      Better to place a sign on a gate to your backyard "Danger: do not enter" and then dig a few covered pits in your yard to trap those who choose to ignore your posted legal warning. Optionally trap a few rabid raccoons in the pits first so they'll have company.

      1. Tomato Krill

        Re: Ethics

        I dont think your idea of a legal warning is entirely constent with the actual law...

    3. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: Ethics

      Those things are already in widespread deployment. They have SSIDs like "O2Wifi" and "BTOpenReach". People have learned how to disable auto-connect to them, as even where they do work, 4G tends to be a lot faster.

  6. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Don't rely on class action. Just bring your own action under small claims or equivalent rules.

  7. Voidstorm

    You have to wonder if ...

    ... the conspicuous racking sound of a shotgun slide would get their attention.

    Good luck catching the Rottweiler with your pokeball, bud.

  8. Christoph

    What's the problem?

    This was in the USA - I thought their solution to trespassers was to shoot first and not bother with questions? There was a case some years back where a couple of guys knocked on someone's door late at night to ask for directions so he shot them both dead (and this was apparently legal).

    1. JohnFen

      Re: What's the problem?

      "I thought their solution to trespassers was to shoot first and not bother with questions?"

      As with all stereotypes, this is more wrong than right. It isn't the case in the majority of the US, but is certainly true in certain parts.

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: What's the problem?

      Your handwaving citation of "a case some years back" in some unknown jurisdiction where homicide "was apparently legal" is very persuasive.

      Here's an actual case where it turned out shooting someone who came to the front door was not, in fact, legal. Note the reference in the article to "Michigan’s expansive 'Shoot First' laws that authorize individuals to deploy deadly force in self-defense without a duty to retreat"; in this case they were found to be inapplicable.

      Obviously the US is a large place where a great many cases are tried, and sometimes cases which are, or seem, very similar will have different outcomes. But perhaps generalizing from a single example is not the most iron-clad way of deriving a universal truth.

      I'm not a fan of US gun culture (while recognizing that there are lawful and good uses for guns). I'm not a fan of "shoot first" or "stand your ground" or "castle" laws. I'm certainly not in favor of judges and juries excusing excessive use of force, deadly or otherwise, by anyone - homeowners, police, narcissistic boys looking for a fight. But the truth is more complicated than "hey, in the US you can shoot anyone and it's fine".

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What's the problem?

      As one who has shot someone under the stand your ground law, there's more to it than cowboy shooting. A guy tried to break into my house one night. The police had already been called and were on their way when the intruder pulled a gun of his own, and that was when I shot him. No idea why he thought he could out-draw me when I had a shotgun already on him. The police investigated for 6 months before the shooting was ruled justified. Had it not been ruled justified I would be in prison for the next who knows how many years.

      The US media tries to protray such laws as allowing you to just walk down the street shooting anyone you like without reprecussions, but what those laws really do is give the person shooting to defend themselves some legal protection. They are not a free pass to shoot people, but they do give the police leeway on whether to arrest you on the spot, and allow the District Attorney (head government lawyer for the county who decides whether to prosecute a case, for the Limeys) to decide whether or not you should be tried. Without them, I would have been arrested for shooting that intruder, and would have had to await trial in prison.

      Anon, because some folks might be upset.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Okay but like it's not Niantic's fault that people are being dumb and violating other people's spaces. Like, common sense, if a stop is on private property, don't ring someone's doorbell to get at it, there are so many others.

    1. JohnFen

      It's Niantic's fault for not seeing this obvious issue well in advance and putting in real safeguards to mitigate it.

  10. Ken Mitchell

    It Got People MOVING!!!

    Pokemon Go got more people walking outside in the first couple of months than all of Michelle Obama's nagging.

    HOWEVER, everyone knows that the "winners" of any class action lawsuit. are the plaintiff's lawyers. Everybody else gets pocket change or a discount voucher for your NEXT purchase.

  11. fidodogbreath Silver badge

    Still a thing?

    I thought Pokemon Go's 15 minutes of fame ran out in 2016.

  12. 0laf Silver badge

    Yep, people are idiots. We had a few 'players' climb into a recyling centre and were wandering around blindly following their phones while a large amount of heavy plant was driving around.

    We emailed Nintendo and the site was excluded from their game.

    I reckon we should have left it, Darwin effect etc. Or put a really important (rare?, precious? I dunno how it works I don't pay) pokestop 10m of the edge of a partiuclarly high and steep cliff. Just put a skip at the bottom to catch the spash.

  13. Snorlax

    Say What?

    "...Pokemon Go...even received an Islamic fatwa."

    A previous Pokemon fatwa in 2001 was issued apparently because "the ability to mutate the creatures to give them more power amounts to blasphemy as it promotes the theory of evolution."

    Somebody should introduce these nutters to the evolution-denying American Christian nutters

  14. Michael Habel Silver badge

    It even received an Islamic fatwa...

    Wow and, here I thought that Islam was totally ungreeable, I suddenly find myself giving it a little fist bump.

  15. LoraWheeler

    Thank you for sharing this. Pokémon GO is a good game.

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