Pokemon Go no go for cops on duty in Indonesia

 An Indonesian shows his new installed Pokemon Go game application on his mobile phone at Banda Aceh, Indonesia on July 20.
An Indonesian shows his new installed Pokemon Go game application on his mobile phone at Banda Aceh, Indonesia on July 20.PHOTO: EPA

JAKARTA • Indonesia has ordered the police not to play Pokemon Go while on duty and it will soon ban military personnel from playing it as well, officials said yesterday.

Defence Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu said the smartphone game was a security threat.

Indonesians have been swept up by the frenzy over the game, which has become a worldwide hit since its launch two weeks ago. It has already been blamed for a wave of crimes, traffic violations and complaints in cities around the globe.

Even though Pokemon Go is not yet officially available in Indonesia, many have downloaded it illegally and taken to the streets to hunt for virtual "pocket monsters". However, its popularity has caused concern among the security establishment's top echelons, with officials suggesting that its high-tech capabilities could be used for spying.

Pokemon Go uses smartphone satellite location, graphics and camera capabilities to overlay the monsters on real-world settings.

"Spying can come in different forms," said Mr Ryamizard. "At first, (Pokemon Go) appears cute but the longer you see... it is just not right."

The military will soon issue an order banning all personnel from playing Pokemon Go during work hours as it seeks to protect high-security sites, military spokesman Tatang Sulaiman said.

The announcement came after a Frenchman was briefly detained this week after he accidentally wandered into a military base on Java island while playing Pokemon Go.

The Indonesian State Palace also banned all staff and guests from playing the game. Warnings have been put up at several locations in the palace.

"The reason is simple: The palace is the President's office and it is not a playground. It must be safeguarded," said Presidential Office press bureau chief Bey Machmuddin.

Meanwhile, in Bosnia, those playing the game were urged to avoid areas littered with unexploded mines left over from the 1992-1995 war.

Around 2.3 per cent of the former Yugoslav republic's territory is believed to be still covered with unexploded mines and similar explosive devices.

Since the end of the war, landmine blasts have killed about 600 people and wounded more than 1,100.



A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 21, 2016, with the headline 'Pokemon Go no go for cops on duty in Indonesia'. Print Edition | Subscribe