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The CIA’s ‘Pokémon Go’ App is Doing What the Patriot Act Can’t

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Privacy advocates (that’s establishment speak for “normal human beings”) celebrated earlier this week as the House rejected yet another attempt to expand the Patriot Act’s snooping provisions. House Resolution 5606, better known by its Orwellian name, the “Anti-terrorism Information Sharing is Strength Act,” would have allowed Big Brother to access Americans’ financial information based on what the government deems to be “suspicious activity.” Given that the DHS has labeled such things as using binoculars, paying with cash, or even “appearing normal” as “possible terrorist activity” in the past (thus making pretty much every human being a possible terrorist), everyone can breathe a sigh of relief that the bill failed.

But don’t breathe that sigh too deeply, because exactly as that threat to privacy was being extinguished, another one was rising to take its place. It goes by the name of “Pokémon Go” and it is a so-called “augmented reality” game that allows users to capture, train and battle virtual Pokémon by chasing them around through real world environments with your smart phone

Full disclosure: Although I live in the land of anime and video games, I have never played any Pokémon games, watched any of the shows, read any of the comics or bought any of the toys associated with the franchise. I don’t know anything about it except for the name of that ubiquitous yellow Pikachu character. So if you are an out-of-touch fuddy-duddy like me, you may be surprised to learn that the “Pokémon Go” app, launched just one week ago, is the hottest thing on the planet right now.

To put into perspective just how popular this game is, it topped the App Store’s “Top Grossing” category within 24 hours of its release. Now, just one week out, it has been downloaded an estimated 7.5 million times in the US alone and is generating an estimated $1.6 million a day for Nintendo. But here’s the truly mind-boggling part: In just the first two trading days after the game’s release, Nintendo’s market value rose a staggering $7.5 billion. That’s right, folks, this is not merely a game, it is a phenomenon.

For those unfamiliar with “augmented reality” gaming, it’s a type of game where one tracks virtual characters or objects that appear on their smart phones through real world environments. The Pokémon Go game is prompting scores of people out into the streets to go chasing for wild Pokémon to capture.

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