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Pokémon Go dev called out by U.S. senator with data privacy concerns

U.S. senator Al Franken issued an open letter to Niantic's chief with questions about what kinds of data the company's hit game Pokémon Go is collecting from players -- especially children.

This week U.S. senator Al Franken issued an open letter to Niantic, Inc. chief John Hanke requesting answers to a litany of questions Franken has about what data the company's hit augmented-reality mobile game Pokémon Go is collecting from players -- especially children.

It's a notable trend for Franken, who has made data privacy -- especially smartphone data privacy -- one of the core issues of his political platform. Earlier this year Franken made a very similar inquiry, sending an open letter to Oculus chief Brendan Iribe calling for the company to be more transparent about how it collects and uses Oculus Rift user data.

In his letter to Hanke this week, Franken references recent concerns about how Pokémon Go grants Niantic full access to many players' Google accounts (which Niantic has also publicly recognized and moved to address) and calls for answers to questions like "Can you describe how Niantic ensures parents provide meaningful consent for their child's use of Pokemon GO and thus the collection of their child's personal information?"

The game itself quickly became a chart-topping success in the U.S. when it launched last week, and has grown to become a bit of a global phenomenon.

"When done appropriately, the collection and use of personal information may enhance consumers' augmented reality experience," reads an excerpt of Franken's letter to Hanke and Niantic. "But we must ensure that Americans' - especially children's - very sensitive information is protected."

Franken has requested that Hanke and Niantic respond to the letter by August 12th. 

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