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Congress: Is Pokémon Go Catching All Your Mobile Data?

Congress: Is Pokémon Go Catching All Your Mobile Data?
Image credit: PC Mag
3 min read
This story originally appeared on PCMag

How much data does Pokémon Go use in a typical hunting session? The notion that leagues of Pokemon-hunting fanatics are burning through their carriers' data plans -- causing them untold amounts of grief and heartache in the form of huge bills for their overages -- seems to have some members of Congress a bit concerned.

So much so, that members of the U.S. House of Representatives' Energy and Commerce Committee sent an official letter to Pokémon Go developer Niantic to ask about the app's data use.


According to the letter, as reported by Quartz, the committee points to recent surveys that suggest Pokémon Go players are spending an average of 43 minutes per day within the game -- a figure that seems low to us, given the many, many kids camping out at parks and PokéStops lately. The letter also points to third-party tests that suggest Pokémon Go users eat up anywhere from 10 to 20 megabytes of data for every hour they spend playing the game. PCMag's Sascha Segan said he used 36MB of data in just a few hours.

Do the math, and even playing for one hour a day -- 15 minutes more than the average quoted in the letter -- still puts you at a maximum of 600MB or so each month. (And given how often the game's servers are down, you're probably playing less than that.) That's well below the typical data plans most people probably subscribe to via their carriers. Nevertheless, the committee is concerned, and wants Niantic to answer four main questions:

"Are there best practices that Niantic follows to minimize the amount of data consumers use when playing Pokémon Go? Has Niantic worked with wireless carriers to ensure that consumers are not unexpectedly hit with large overage charges? Does Niantic conspicuously warn customers before they start using the app about how much data the app consumes? Does Niantic have any mechanism in place to make sure consumers are made whole in the event that they are hit with an unexpected overage charge resulting from the use of your app," the letter reads.

Of course, if you're a T-Mobile customer, none of this applies. You get free data for the first year of your subscription when playing Pokémon Go.

Not only is Pokémon Go generating some congressional inquiries, but the popularity of game has managed to entice Saudi Arabia's top clerics to re-issue a fatwa against the entire Pokémon franchise. The problem? As reported by CNET, Pokémon… evolve.

"The theory of evolution is a main element. One of the most important things that makes man condemn this game is adopting the theory of evolution developed by Darwin. This theory states that all species of organisms evolve and that the origin of man was an ape. Astonishingly, the children frequently use the word 'evolution' inside and outside the game. You can hear them saying that this creature contained in the card has evolved to another form," reads the edict.

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