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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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
(Image: WILD PIKACHU APPEARS!, Sadie Hernandez, CC-BY)