If you’ve been playing Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, you might want to listen up. The game has been tracking users’ locations even when they weren’t using the app.
In case you’re not familiar, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is “a location-based augmented reality game inspired by the Wizarding World and the Harry Potter franchise,” as it states on the official website. The game is a lot like Pokémon Go and is even developed by the same company.
According to a recent investigation published by Kotaku, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite was quietly keeping records of users’ locations both when the app was in use and when it wasn’t. Niantic, the company behind Pokémon Go and Wizards Unite, kept on average three location records per minute of Wizards Unite gameplay. And according to Kotaku’s investigation, this is way more than was recorded for Pokémon Go users, although Pokémon Go has raised similar concerns in the past when it allowed developers access to users’ Google accounts.
One Wizards Unite player had at least one location recorded almost every hour of every day, which suggests that when the app was open in the background but not in use, the game was sharing users’ data with Niantic.
But even though Niantic was in fact tracking users location even when Harry Potter: Wizards Unite was running in the background, the company says this wasn’t their intention. A bug was allegedly in the Android version of the game, and Niantic confirmed to CNET that the bug has since been patched. However, Niantic did make it clear that its private policy states the details that Wizards Unite collections, and users of the app can request for this collected data to be deleted.
Keep in mind that even though Niantic said that the bug that allowed location tracking even when the app wasn’t in use has been fixed, there’s still the potential for malicious activity. Kotaku found that Harry Potter: Wizards Unite and Pokémon Go track users’ locations up to 13 times every minute when the app is in use. This, CNET reports, can allow for Niantic or malicious third parties to track user behavior and locations. So it’s important to note this if location tracking is a concern of yours.