The UAE Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has called on all smart mobile and device users and warned them about playing online electronic games that request for their geographical locations, which could be used against them for criminal activities.
The warning was issued in the light of the growing popularity of online games such as Pokemon Go, which according to the TRA, invades the privacy of users and allows criminal elements like hackers to spy on them and know when they are in isolated places-giving them the opportunity to rob them of their possessions or cause further harm.
Eng. Mohamed Al Zarooni, TRA Director Policy and Programs Department, said, “Some of these virtual reality games depend on new geo-positioning technology to track the locations of users and tap into their smart phone cameras, which makes the privacy of users open to predators. The TRA is warning all smart mobile and device users against using these applications in sensitive private places to ensure that their privacy and safety is secure.”
According to the TRA, these games utilize virtual reality technologies to give users the capability to add virtual images on their smart phones. As such, the augmented reality captured on the screen becomes a mixture of real life integrated with elements of virtual reality. This technology is being used in different areas, entertainment, games, engineering, health and education.
The TRA explained that using these virtual-reality games with geo-positioning technology, such as the new Pokemon Go game does, can result in the invasion of user privacy, as well as being victim to criminal software, phishing software and malware that clones games. The TRA also warned against the illegal download of these games, even before they are made available in official application stores. These illegal software and applications can cause damage to the operating system of smart phones, or be used for spying on its users. The TRA advised all game fans to wait until the game applications are officially available across official application stores.
Al Zarooni noted that virtual reality games can be entertaining and educational if it is used in the proper way as it can be used to visit, learn and discover new places.
Adel Al Muhairi, Manager, National Computer Emergency Response Team, TRA, stated, “The engrossment of game users into these games could possibly lead them to unknown places where unlawful criminals could be waiting for them. These games could also cause injury if used while driving or walking. The proper use of virtual reality technology offers many beneficial features and advantages, yet, if it is not used correctly, it could have negative repercussions.”
Al .Muhairi called on parents to join their children in discovering these new tech games to learn more about them so they can evaluate the dangers. He also asked to avoid using the camera options for these games, especially while at home. He encouraged parents to decide on what games are appropriate for the age groups of their children.