Pokemon GO has grown to be one of the most popular mobile games worldwide since its release in 2016, but not every nation's government agrees with the game's audience or entertainment model.
Citing safety and ethical concerns, several countries have restricted Pokemon GO. Some have limited play in certain areas. Others have outright banned the game.
Many restrictions stem from real-world safety incidents where Pokemon GO players, disregarding the game's safety notices, were injured or caused other public harm by going into certain areas or not paying attention to their surroundings. There have also been ethical concerns, usually around certain dubious locations drawing Pokemon GO players due to their Pokestop status.
Countries that restricted Pokemon GO
Although Pokemon GO, for the most part, is widely accessible worldwide, there are some caveats. The number of nations that have banned or restricted the game is small but not insignificant.
Some have cited national security, while others have pointed to public safety problems. Indeed, when Pokemon GO was first released, many stories of individuals getting harmed or trespassing on the property were reported. But certain nations took a more rigid stance than others.
At the game's launch, Pokemon GO was banned by the country's High Council of Virtual Spaces. The national body cited security concerns due to the game's use of maps and geolocation data they believed presented a security issue for the population.
Although not completely banned, Kuwait restricted Pokemon GO from being used at government sites. Kuwait's interior ministry has also warned against using the app in Emir's Palace, mosques, energy facilities, and military bases. Security at these sites maintains a zero-tolerance policy towards players.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Despite no formal bans, Pokemon GO has been intensely scrutinized, citing safety hazards within the region specifically. During the Balkan Wars, landmines were commonly planted in the area. There are severe safety concerns, given that players wander into all kinds of terrain. Bosnian authorities have cautioned players about this and have asked them to maintain vigilance.
Though not banned, the country has taken steps to prohibit the game in certain areas. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington and Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia have asked the public not to play the game on their grounds. One city in Georgia, known as Newnan, banned Pokemon GO from being played in its cemeteries after individuals damaged graves and fences in the area.
Though accessible in Russia, Pokemon GO playing in religious institutions such as churches can result in jail sentences on blasphemy charges.
The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, a site of remembrance for those who died in the Holocaust, explicitly asked players to stay away from their premises while out of respect. The museum's operations also requested Niantic to block players from interacting with the location.
China banned Pokemon GO at the outset, much like Iran, stating that it presented a safety hazard for unaware drivers and pedestrians. Chinese authorities also noted that the game's location technology could compromise individual safety or military personnel.
Thailand's National Broadcasting and Communications Commission has requested that Niantic remove any Pokemon-related media from locations such as government sites, national landmarks, religious sites, private property, and areas with dangerous footpaths or rivers.
Pokemon GO players have been banned from the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum out of respect for those who died at the site during the Khmer Rouge regime.
After the renewal of a 2001 fatwah (religious doctrine) banning Pokemon from the nation, Saudi Arabia has banned Pokemon GO play due to the game's depiction of evolution and polytheism.
Like many other nations, the Philippines has banned Pokemon GO use from government and military installations out of security concerns.
Vietnam banned Pokemon GO players from government and defense offices.
Though not outright restricting or banning the game, Israel has implored the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) not to play the game on active duty to avoid any potential compromise of their location.
In the interest of protecting state secrets, government workers in the nation's ministries and intelligence agencies have been instructed not to play Pokemon GO at work.