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Pokémon Go Revelations

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Date Host Jimmy Church
Guests Bryan Lunduke, Open Lines

Filling in for George, Jimmy Church (email) was joined by Bryan Lunduke, a technology journalist for Network World, an author of nerdy books, podcaster, and creator of absurd videos. He revealed how Pokémon Go was ultimately developed through the venture capital wing of the CIA, and how downloading the app provides the agency with access to personal data contained on mobile devices.

Lunduke traced the origin of Niantic Labs, developer of Pokémon Go, to a man named John Hanke, who claims to have worked at a "foreign affairs" position within the U.S. government. In 2001, Hanke founded Keyhole, Inc., backed with money from the CIA's venture capital firm In-Q-Tel, he reported. Keyhole developed a product called "Earth," which was renamed to "Google Earth" after the company was acquired by the search engine giant, Lunduke continued. Hanke went to work for Google where he eventually founded Niantic Labs in 2010, he noted.

"It's all easy to verify... a couple of quick online searches revealed all of this information," Lunduke admitted. Niantic created two location-based apps/games, Field Trip and Ingress, which encouraged users to walk around with their smart phones to find things at locations in the real world, he disclosed, pointing out how the company was spun off from Google before the launch of Pokémon Go. A former CEO of the CIA's In-Q-Tel firm sits on the board of directors at Niantic, Lunduke added.

Lunduke called the level of access required to play Pokémon Go "absolutely ridiculous." Users who installed the game when it first came out had to agree to give full access to contacts, email services, identity, location, cameras, all media files, and to the contents of every file in storage on the device, he explained. Lunduke suggested the game could be used as a way to get users to perform clandestine services on behalf of the alphabet agencies, as the game requires the phone to be out of pocket or purse and oriented with camera forward and microphone able to pick up conversations. "A simple game turned a cell phone into an even better surveillance device," he warned.

Open Lines followed in the last hour.

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