Consumer advocates attack the “Pokémon Sleep” app: the app could promote addiction and show weaknesses in data protection, several institutions told the medium netzpolitik.org
The report by netzpolitik.org criticizes the basic gameplay of the app: “Pokémon Sleep” collects sleep data from users placed on the mattress via the motion sensor and cell phone microphone. With Pokémon rewards, it should contribute to a regular sleep rhythm. The better you sleep, the more pocket monsters you can collect as a reward. At its core, Pokémon Sleep works just like other sleep trackers you can download for Android and iOS. However, consumer advocates are apparently bothered by the fact that the app is aimed at minors.
Sensitive health data
“We have not yet encountered an app that records the sleeping behavior of children and young people,” said a spokesman for the state data protection officer for Baden-Württemberg to netzpolitik.org. Information on sleeping behavior is sensitive health data that is particularly protected under the GDPR. Accordingly, minors under the age of 16 cannot consent to the processing without a legal guardian.
“Pokémon Sleep” is also criticized for handling this sensitive data: An investigation by the data protection project mobilsicher has shown that the app sends data to advertising networks. The Pokémon Company, which belongs to Nintendo, assures netzpolitik.org that the app does not send any data from minors to advertising networks. The audio recording can also be switched off.
In an FAQ, the developers write that audio recordings are only saved locally. On the other hand, data about the sleep behavior of users, with which a sleep diary is created, end up on the servers. This can also be found in the FAQ.
Addiction through “Pokémon Sleep”?
Finally, the medium also cites concerns about addiction: “Pokémon Sleep” takes advantage of children’s play instincts and can promote addiction, netzpolitik.org quotes the Federal Consumer Association as saying. “The first and last thought is inevitably the app.” Many other mobile games are also designed to encourage regular play. “Pokémon Sleep” is particularly dangerous because it targets the time right before and after bedtime. Gamification elements such as in-game currencies are “perfidious”.
“Pokémon Sleep is intended for entertainment purposes only,” netzpolitik.org quoted the spokesman for the Pokémon Company as saying. “We also always encourage parents to be involved in their children’s gaming experiences.”
“Pokémon Sleep” was announced in 2019 and was released in Germany in July after a long development period. The application is free to download, the app offers premium passes with additional items for purchase with real money. The application has already been downloaded more than 1 million times in the Android Play Store. Their user rating is 2.4 out of 5 stars.
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