Pokémon Go, Master Government Spy?

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past month you have likely heard of the Pokémon Go phenomenon. While the game is only available “officially” (hacks are said to be available) in a few countries, it certainly hasn’t stopped some rather strange Pokémon Go-related occurrences happening across the world–including the rumor that the game is a government initiated ploy to aid government intelligence services with endless surveillance drones.

Recent reports have indicated users finding dead bodies, witnessing car accidents and actually assisting authorities in various arrests with footage at the crime scene.  It’s no surprise that there have been some crazy real-life events reported while people have been chasing after a Pikachu and his cohorts.

If you’ve been out of the loop, Pokémon Go is a brand new mobile game from Niantic and the Pokémon Company where you use your smartphone’s camera to capture Pokémon in the real world. But in order to find them, you physically have to travel around in order to collect items at PokéStops, battle at Pokémon Gyms and discover new Pokémon items, all of which are mapped to your actual real-world location and nearby landmarks.

Pokémon-GO spy tool

As soon as you open the app you’re reminded to be aware of your surroundings as you play, but that hasn’t stopped these crazy events from occurring.

Pokémon Go is irrefutably the biggest sensation on the internet today. Kids and adults alike (male or female, fat or thin, gamers or non gamers alike) are suddenly parading around their now-populated neighborhoods with their chins tucked in, gazing down into their smartphones as they seek out the rarest of Pokémon in their immediate location (or they’ll just settle for Pidgey, who’s pretty much everywhere).

Let’s put in perspective just how popular this game really is–it topped the APP store’s “Top Grossing” category within 24 hours of its release.  It has been downloaded an estimated 7.5 million times in the US alone and is generating an estimated $1.6 million a day for Nintendo. Nintendo’s market value rose to a staggering $7.5 billion, that’s right, billion. The Pokemon Go game is promoting scores of people out into the streets to go chasing for the wild Pokemon to capture. Invasive? I would say so.

SO invasive, in fact, that Pokémon Go is believed to be a government surveillance ploy that robs its users of their privacy and subsequently acts as government support drones. Ridiculous? See for yourself.

Is Pokémon Go a SPY tool?

Think about it–a game that promotes observation through rewards, and has you traveling vast distances in an effort to collect virtual items, ultimately promoting heists, violence, hoaxes and hysteria.  This is starting to sound like the start of a James Bond film, but is it as big of a deal as the internet is making it out to be? I’m not so sure, but it’s something worth mentioning as the evidence is quite compelling.

  1. By downloading the app, not only do you give the game access to your location and camera (which I                understand is required for a location-based augmented reality game), but, considering you use your Google account to sign in (which it recommends), they have FULL access to all of that information as well — our emails, pics, documents, web searches, all of it.
  2. Niantic is the company responsible for “Pokémon Go” and was founded by a man named John Hanke, a man whose OTHER company, Keyhole (which was acquired by Google in 2004), happened to receive funding from a government firm called In-Q-Tel, a venture capital firm whose own funding came courtesy of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), whose mission is to collect, analyze and distribute geospatial intelligence, according to testimony provided by Gawker.
  3. Not only that, but Niantic’s own website copy suspiciously describes the the efforts of their company (written July 6, 2016 — the day the Pokémon app became available) as such: “exploiting the capabilities of smartphones and location technology and through building a unique massively scalable server and global location dataset.”

So, you be the judge, is Pokémon Go spying on you?  The Pokémon Go game currently taking the internet by storm (and lets not forget scooping up all their data, including activities, movements and communications) is ultimately created by a government linked business venture.  It sounds like we’ve entered the realm of “The Matrix” where people pay good money to spy on themselves and have fun doing it.  Always remember it’s all just fun and games until you fall victim to some crazy scheme.

Future of Guns in America?

adminGun Control2 Comments

It is hard for non-Americans to understand the relationship that exist between an American and their guns, especially when an Obama run White House could threaten this American standard.  Traveling the world, I’ve have seen how other countries embrace or don’t embrace gun laws and I can say with confidence that we Americans feel strongly about our right to bear arms. America was founded on a strong tradition of individual liberty and the right of self-defense, which a gun personifies; the enduring myth of the frontier and the Wild West (personified by cinema, the cowboy without a gun, taming the west); the status that guns confer especially on the young; and the fear bred by proliferation. The real question is whether the best form of protection comes from carrying our own weapon.

The SafeHouse blog focuses on gun control in America...what can you expect in the not so distant future.

The SafeHouse blog focuses on gun control in America…what can you expect in the not so distant future.

It is an interesting time we live in. A leisure activity like taking in a movie at the local theatre can be just as deadly as walking unarmed down the streets of Fallujah, Iraq. I have counted the number of fatal shootings per hour of prime-time TV. I have talked to militia leaders, passionate gunshop owners, and ice-eyed supporters of the National Rifle Association.

I can recite by heart the infamous Second Amendment of 1791, which provides constitutional underpinning for the gun. “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” The militias referenced were intended to safeguard the populace from King George’s redcoats and hostile Indian tribes. The amendment is as relevant to modern America as it ever has been. The time will surely come when the line in the sand is drawn and a side has to be chosen. Let’s explore the options in an effort to help determine a possible future outcome. I personally see it three ways of varying practicality.

1. Guns magically vanish: Maybe someone invents a technology to make this happen or a wizard comes down from a mountain and snaps his fingers. In this scenario we have to define exactly what is safer. Would the overall murder rate go down? Possibly but not probable. Would other forms of violent crime go down? I doubt it and I’d wager they might even go up now that the weak are less able to defend themselves. I would also venture that knife sales would quadruple as the desire to self-defend will drive the need for protection.

2. Government bans Guns: Given culture, the prevalence of guns, and the legal protections they currently have, I believe America would become less safe. The police force would have to militarize well beyond the level it already has to enforce such a ban. Many people would turn in guns they own, but they would be considered weak as stated in the first scenario. Their relative weakness would be worse compared to those who didn’t turn in their guns. Those that didn’t turn in guns would be hunted down by the police, which would lead to desperation and additional violence against our first responders.

3. A sociological effort to convince Americans not to own guns: Gun control advocates are already attempting this. They talk about lessons learned with the anti-smoking campaigns and how to apply those to guns. The problem here is that smoking has a direct, causal link to cancer and guns do not have a direct, causal link to violence, and people recognize this. Further, this strategy will do nothing to get guns away from those bent on crime, after all where their is a will, their most certainly is a way.

It is inarguable that the gun is just a tool. As such, it may well facilitate crime in some cases. However, it’s not the root cause. Solving problems by treating symptoms never gets rid of the underlying problem. So let’s rise up, make our intentions known and ensure those elected understand our position whether for or against gun control. The time to choose a side is rapidly approaching. Choose wisely.

Is America still a safe place to live?

adminAmerican Safety0 Comments

Welcome to “The Safe House Blog”, a new kind of blog that provides a place of empowerment; where ideas and opinions can be expressed and concepts can be explored.  As the creators of The Safe House blog we embrace our responsibility to give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers in order to accomplish the “Be Unique, Be Legendary” mindset.

america-safe-graphic
In the wake of the recent events in Orlando and continuing strife around the United States we remain a relatively safe place to live compared to countries like Iraq and Syria.  But do you actually feel safe?

According to Time Magazine (Rogers, 2014), recent studies show that 47 percent of Americans said they feel less safe now than before the 9/11 terrorist attacks. A year after 9/11, just 20 percent of Americans shared this emotional response, a stunning thought to consider given the severity of those attacks. Additionally, a poll conducted shortly after the deadly ISIS attacks in Paris found that 63 percent of Americans were afraid that a similar attack could happen here.  Now we see events like the Orlando night club shooting being added to the list and question the meaning of Safety in our current cultural scape.

It is hard to point out one concrete reason for this fear. Some experts say that cultural forces play a role in influencing how people respond. Others suppose that it is a “proliferation of fear,” especially in our current political environment. Whichever theory you entertain as most likely, the fact remains that at least a portion of the American population is frightened. Despite the fact this is a country where Franklin D. Roosevelt said “we have nothing to fear but fear itself” (1933).  So what happened? What is driving some into panic, that these attacks are less likely to become isolated incidents and more likely to become the normal threats to our way of life.  With the War on Terror, we face an enemy that is harder to see. As we have seen with the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, victory is hard to define.  I have spent many years in these countries in various capacities and have interfaced with the people on various levels.  I have seen first hand how these societies cope with fear and maintain a life balance.

So what do Americans fear? According to a 2015 survey by Chapman University, the number one fear was corruption of government officials, clocking in at 58%. It was followed closely by cyber terrorism, tracking of personal info, and terrorist attacks at 44.8%, 44.6%, and 44.4%, respectively. Lately, all of these fears have appeared in the news in some form or fashion, so it is understandable why they are on Americans’ minds.

These fears are perfectly rational, but unnecessary.  “Why”? might you ask.  Fear is what feeds the entire operation of terrorism.  If Americans fall under this fear, we weaken our nation, after all “We” should “Fear nothing but fear it self” right?  We show weakness by altering our culture; our way of life, and this makes us more susceptible to future attacks.  It also empowers terrorists by giving them free publicity to share their message, and create greater fear among citizens.

So how do we change this trend?  This certainly is not an all inclusive list and the opinions of some, but a possible remedy is to first, help Americans realize that the United States is still a safe and free country.  Second, we need to live our daily lives in a way that we would normally live; remain vigilant and allow happiness and joy to be the driving influence in our work place, businesses and homes.  Finally, we need to stop aiding the terrorists by giving them a free media platform, more exposure and publicity only fuels their cause and spreads fear amongst the populace.  We can all learn from the words of a famous Jazz song written by Nina Simone, “It’s a new dawn, It’s a new day, It’s a new life, and I’m feeling good”. So move forward in life, follow your dreams, go on that vacation you have been planning and don’t allow fear to take control over your life.

References

Chapman University.  (2015).  The Chapman University survey on American fears.  Retrieved from http://www.chapman.edu/wilkinson/research-centers/babbie- center/survey-american-fears.aspx

Rogers, A.  (2014).  U.S. fears of terrorist attack highest since 9/11, poll finds.
Time.  Retrieved from http://time.com/3318231/isis-obama-911-poll/