Pokemon Go players: Opt-out of Niantic's terrible forced arbitration clause now!

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!

  1. Launch your email app of choice.
  2. Send an email to termsofservice@nianticlabs.com
  3. Put "Arbitration Opt-out Notice" as the subject.
  4. 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!)
  5. 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.

Rene Ritchie
Contributor

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

30 Comments
  • Looking forward for anyone to comment on a good body to include on the email
  • Or just delete your account with them. Sent from the iMore App
  • I'm in no way a legal expert, but Citizen.org has some templates to opt out of other arbitration clauses -- like Discover Card and PayPal. Here's the one for PayPal: PayPal, Inc.
    Attn: Litigation Department
    2211 North First Street
    San Jose, CA 95131 Re: Opt-out Notice To Whom It May Concern: I do not agree to the Agreement to Arbitrate. By this letter, I am opting out of the Agreement to Arbitrate, including the prohibition on class actions, as authorized by paragraph 14.3.e of the PayPal User Agreement. This opt-out applies to the following PayPal accounts: Email(s):
    [list the email address(es) associated with your PayPal account(s)] Sincerely, [sign here] YOUR NAME
    YOUR ADDRESS
    YOUR TELEPHONE NUMBER
  • I also am no legal expert, but I simply changed the body of the template above to read as follows (as well as changing all instances of PayPal's information to Niantic's of course): I do not agree to the Agreement to Arbitrate section of the Pokémon GO Terms of Service outlined at https://www.nianticlabs.com/terms/pokemongo/en. By this email, I am opting out of the Agreement to Arbitrate, including the prohibition on class actions, as described in the Dispute Resolution section of the Pokémon GO Terms of Service. This opt-out applies to the following Pokémon GO accounts:
  • Web tip...when putting together a post that includes an email address, format the link as such so it will open in user's default email client... mailto:address@domain.com. Right now, when someone clicks on the niantic link above, it opens to missing page on your site.
  • Agreed.
  • By opting out of this, could they disable your account?
  • Speaking of arbitration clauses, from the MobileNation's T&C's. "Any dispute, claim or controversy arising out of or relating to these Terms of Use or the breach, termination, enforcement, interpretation or validity thereof, including the determination of the scope or applicability of this agreement to arbitrate, shall be determined by arbitration in the State of Florida. The arbitration shall be administered by the American Arbitration Association (AAA) under its rules, including the AAA’s supplemental procedures for consumer-related disputes. As an alternative, you may bring your claim in your local "small claims" court, if permitted by that small claims court's rules. YOU ARE GIVING UP THE RIGHT TO LITIGATE (OR PARTICIPATE IN AS A PARTY OR CLASS MEMBER) ALL DISPUTES IN COURT BEFORE A JUDGE OR JURY."
  • Wow... how odd they'd run a story about the evil nature of arbitration clauses :-/ Fool me once, shame one you...
  • It's not odd, it's just how Rene is, disingenuous a lot of the time.
  • Speaks to credibility I guess :-(
  • +1. He is first to point fingers on anything Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • So everyone, also send an email to info@mobilenations.com to opt out of iMore's forced arbitration clause.
  • Don't we have to provide some sort of personal info, etc, for them to log it to our account? For example, I log in with a Pokemon Trainer account. Don't I have to give them my Username so they have something to put the request to? Sent from the iMore App
  • Damn. And here I was about to use Apple Music, too. And only way to opt out of this is to not use it?
  • Hah, no wonder they don't seem to concerned about deleting people's music, if people would have to go to Cairo ;)
  • Lmao
  • Guess someone should also format a letter attention to Apple as well...
  • Straight savage. Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • Once again Phil owns Rene Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • Contrast this with Google: "The laws of California, U.S.A., excluding California’s conflict of laws rules, will apply to any disputes arising out of or relating to these terms or the Services. All claims arising out of or relating to these terms or the Services will be litigated exclusively in the federal or state courts of Santa Clara County, California, USA, and you and Google consent to personal jurisdiction in those courts."
  • This is why I created a google account purely for Pokemon GO or other games. Theres no personal info to leak and they can access all they want, I'll close it and open a new one. I've just put GO infront of my existing email address to create it so it's easy to remember.
    GOfakeemail@gmail.com Sent from the iMore App
  • So if i should Opt-Out, would my account be deleted?
  • EULA TL;DR: ARBITRATION NOTICE: EXCEPT IF YOU OPT OUT AND EXCEPT FOR CERTAIN TYPES OF DISPUTES DESCRIBED IN THE “AGREEMENT TO ARBITRATE” SECTION BELOW, YOU AGREE THAT DISPUTES BETWEEN YOU AND NIANTIC WILL BE RESOLVED BY BINDING, INDIVIDUAL ARBITRATION, AND YOU ARE WAIVING YOUR RIGHT TO A TRIAL BY JURY OR TO PARTICIPATE AS A PLAINTIFF OR CLASS MEMBER IN ANY PURPORTED CLASS ACTION OR REPRESENTATIVE PROCEEDING.
  • I just opted out of binding arbitration; here's the language I used: "To Whom This May Concern, I am contacting you today in regards to the Pokemon GO Terms of Service. Please be advised that I hereby opt of of binding arbitration with Niantic Labs, Inc., and that this email shall provide official notice of the same. Furthermore, I hereby reserve my right to a trial by jury and to participate in a class action lawsuit, in the event of a legal dispute. Please respond to this email as confirmation that you acknowledge and agree to my decision to opt out of binding arbitration. If I receive no response, I will assume that you acknowledge and agree to this decision. Thank you for your kind attention to this matter. Very Truly Yours, [Your Name]
    Pokemon GO Username: [Your Username]"
  • Good luck with these meaningless letters.
  • And you just have to love the automated reply: ##- Please type your reply above this line -##
    Hello, Thanks for your interest in Ingress. If you are trying to reach Niantic Ops for Ingress support, including reporting inappropriate gameplay or behavior, please visit Ingress Help and select one of the contact options under "Submit a request' in the upper righthand corner. Otherwise, we will reach out to you if we need more information on your inquiry.
  • Will I lose my Pokemon go account if I do this send email regarding this Thanks Jonny
  • Here's a quote from the Consumerist article linked above ---------------------------------
    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. 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. ------------------------- Again, Rene and iMore display their cluelessness on business and legal matters. They advocate waiving arbitration and using the court system instead. However, arbitration is used as an alternative to court proceedings because it is faster and cheaper for all parties, and Niantic arbitration clause is essentially no different from any other I've seen in the software context. But here's the kicker: By opting out of Arbitration and you decide to bring a case in court, you are guaranteeing (A) a long legal battle in the sclerotic court system in California, and (B) having to pay any attorney you personally hire a huge sum of money out of your own pocket over many years. No thanks, I'll take the arbitration thank you. You all should.
  • Here is the verbage(It is also important as arbitration settle out of court and does not have the users rights and freedoms in the best interests, Its more of a "CYA" for the company so no one can sue them for exorbitant amount of money. You should make sure you mention ip address, etc which can also identify you and MAC address etc) To Whom It May Concern: Per the Agreement to terms:
    I do not agree to the Agreement to Arbitrate. By this letter, I am opting out of the Agreement to Arbitrate, including the prohibition on class actions. I do NOT agree that disputes between myself, my party, my identification, ID, IP address, MAC address or any identifiable information that pertains to my account be resolved by binding, individual arbitration. Furthermore I do NOT waive my right to trial by jury or participate as a plaintiff or class member in any purported class action or representative proceeding. This letter is associated to the agreement terms related to what is identified as"Account" and "Email address" and any and all associative data related to my identification through the server, network, or any infrastructure there in. This includes but not limited to email, "account" or account, or any identification therein related to the agreement. I do NOT waive the right to alter this Opt-out notice or any rights or agreements there in to Niantic, TCPI, or any affiliated companies or corporations.