The Iranian government decides to ban its people from playing the popular augmented reality mobile game Pokemon GO, citing security concerns as the reason.
Since its release last month, Pokemon GO has been at the center of a number of controversies. The game has been blamed for motor vehicle accidents, people almost losing their jobs, and now the developers are even facing a lawsuit from someone who claims it encourages trespassing. Every day seems to bring with it a new Pokemon GO controversy, and the latest sees the popular mobile game outright banned in the country of Iran.
The High Council of Virtual Spaces, a governing body in Iran that makes decisions about its country’s online activity, made the decision to ban Iranians from playing Pokemon GO due to security concerns. Iranian authorities apparently tried to work with Niantic to see if the company would cooperate with government restrictions on the game before banning it, but it seems as though nothing came from those talks.
The decision by Iran to ban Pokemon GO makes it the first country to ban the hugely popular game. Even so, other areas have restricted some people from playing the game under certain circumstances. BBC reports that police officers in Indonesia are banned from playing Pokemon GO while on duty, and there are plans in New York state to ban sex offenders from playing the game while they’re on parole.
Banning sex offenders from playing Pokemon GO makes sense, as the game encourages people to travel to real world locations to collect items and catch Pokemon, potentially endangering children and others. We’ve already seen how Pokemon GO can be abused to put people in danger, such as the situation in Missouri where people were lured to PokeStops and robbed by a group of criminals, so making efforts to prevent that is important.
However, banning the game for everyone in an entire country seems like an overreaction. Iran believes it poses a “security concern,” but for the most part, Pokemon GO simply asks people to travel to public places and landmarks that they could visit with or without the game. There are some discrepancies, like Pokemon Gyms popping up in Area 51, but Niantic is now allowing people to request the removal of PokeStops and gyms, which should negate any possible security concerns.
The justification to ban Pokemon GO is questionable, but this isn’t the first time a video game has been banned in Iran, and it won’t be the last. Battlefield 3 was banned in the country, as was ARMA 3, and unfortunately, there will likely be many more video games banned in the country in the years to come.
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Pokemon GO is available now for iOS and Android mobile devices.
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