Pokemon Go players: you have 30 days from signup to opt out of binding arbitration

Like most other online services, Pokemon Go's terms of service are a reboot of the Book of Revelations, full of bizarre horrors, each more grotesque than the last.

But even by the standards of EULAs, Pogo finds new depths to plumb: to play Pokemon Go, you have to accede to a binding arbitration clause, surrendering your right to sue and promising only to seek redress for any harms that the company visits upon you in a system of secretive, one-sided shadow courts paid for by corporations where class actions are not permitted and the house always wins.

In adding binding arbitration to its terms of service, Pokemon joins a small but growing movement of online services that strip their customers of their legal rights as a condition of sale, including Google Fiber and Airbnb (this is also disturbingly common in the US health care industry; when we moved to California we went through three doctors and two dentists before finding health care professionals that didn't make surrender of your legal rights a condition of care).

But there's a way out: if you want to play Pokemon Go without submitting to binding arbitration, you need to send an email to termsofservice@nianticlabs.com with the subject "Arbitration Opt-out Notice" within 30 days of creating your account, and include in the body "a clear declaration that you are opting out of the arbitration clause in the Pokémon Go terms of service."

You've got 30 days from signup to do this, and so do your friends, so spread the word: gotta warn 'em all!

The Pokémon Go Terms of Service, as published by developer Niantic Labs, include a restrictive forced arbitration clause that both takes away the user’s right to file a lawsuit against Niantic, but also bars the user from joining others in any sort of class action against the company.

Instead, all legal disputes must be heard — on an individual basis — through private arbitration outside of a courtroom. Each user must mount their own case, even if all of the plaintiff users were wronged in the same exact way by the company.

So, imagine if there’s a huge data breach that results in the leaking of personal information for millions of Go users. Rather than have to answer for the totality of the error, the company would only have to face those few users who take the time — and have the resources — to bring a case before an arbitrator.

Pokémon Go Strips Users Of Their Legal Rights; Here’s How To Opt Out [Chris Morran/Consumerist]

(Image: WILD PIKACHU APPEARS!, Sadie Hernandez, CC-BY)

Notable Replies

  1. I am trying to think of a case of why I would ever sue a free to play game... Maybe I am not imaginative enough.

    Doctors I could see, for malpractice.

  2. I can't imagine it either, but I'm opting out on principle.

  3. I am 100% sure someone will eventually die playing the game. Because outside is dangerous, especially if you aren't paying attention. I suspect we should make some bumpers stickers and yard signs like these, only with "Pokemon Go Players are Everywhere".

    I am actually really happy that this game is prompting people to "go out". I mean, I am an indoors guy now, but as a kid we were out all the time exploring. It really kinda bugs me todays kids lack the freedom to go out and find things.

    "Pokemon" was available IRL all the time. Go out side and document what creatures you see. Not sure what is, take a pic and then go home and look it up. My dad had field guides for Northern American Birds, Mammals, Insects, and Reptiles, so we could figure out just about what ever we saw, though he usually know what it was.

  4. I don't think it's about personal injury, per se. Niantic released the game in a state where it had full access to some iOS users' Google accounts. IMO this is more than enough justification for wanting to retain one's right to a lawsuit in the event that Niantic fails to properly secure their software and/or user data.

    These clauses are anti-consumer, without a doubt. Wealthy corporations like Valve don't put them in their terms of service because they think it's going to end up costing them more money. The threat of a class action is a powerful incentive for companies to take this stuff seriously, even if the resulting payout is trivial to any single member of the class.

Continue the discussion bbs.boingboing.net

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