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‘Harry Potter: Wizards Unite’ gathered location data while users slept

Niantic says it fixed the bug responsible for that overcollection.
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It's no secret that games like Harry Potter: Wizards Unite and Pokémon Go track their users' locations. But it can be alarming to see just how much data companies like Niantic have. As part of an extensive report on how tech companies are mapping the world, Kotaku revealed that Niantic's Wizards Unite, in particular, gathered a surprising amount of data.

Kotaku looked at 25,000 location records shared with it by 10 players of Niantic games. It found that Niantic kept about three location records per minute of Wizards Unite gameplay. That was nearly twice as many records as it kept for Pokémon Go. In one case, Niantic had at least one location record taken nearly every hour of the day. In other words, it likely swept up location data even when the user was not playing.

When Kotaku brought this up to Niantic, the company blamed the non-stop data collection on a bug in the Android version. It says the bug has been fixed. All other data collection is detailed in its privacy policy, and users can request to have their data deleted.

In its report, Kotaku warns that Niantic has enough location data to "discern individual patterns of user behavior as well as intimate details about a player's life." That may be true, but it's nothing new or specific to Niantic. Google has enough location data to help investigators solve crimes -- though it now lets you auto-delete your history. And bugs that leak your location data are not unheard of, just ask Twitter.

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