Niantic, the developers behind Pokemon Go, have included a clause in their terms of service (TOS) that, if you don't opt-out of in 30 days, strips you of your legal rights and forces you into binding arbitration. It's natural for companies to want to limit their liability, especially when their products or services involve real-world situations that could result in physical harm. That's why it's up to each and every one of us to tell Pokemon Go — Oh, hell no!
Update: Here's one click way for you to populate an email and opt-out of binding arbitration for Pokemon Go
Chris Moran at the Consumerist lays out why this matters:
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.
Even though those few users may bring identical cases to arbitration, there is always the chance that the arbitrator could rule differently in each instance. And if that arbitrator makes a mistake that would have changed the outcome, the Supreme Court has previously ruled that you'd have no recourse through the legal system.
Neither Niantic nor the Pokemon company are evil. It's their lawyers' job to protect them. But it's our job to say when they've gone too far. In this case, way too far, according to Cory Doctrow on Boing Boing:
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.
How to opt-out of Niantic's Pokemon Go terms of service
Remember, you have to do this within 30-days of signing up for Pokemon Go. So, do it now!
- Launch your email app of choice.
- Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Put "Arbitration Opt-out Notice" as the subject.
- State firmly that you're opting out of arbitration in the body. (If anyone has really good language for this, please put it in the comments for everyone to use!)
- Hit Send.
Hopefully Niantic — and other companies — get the message and include fairer, more consumer-friendly language in their terms of service to begin with.