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Google Ingress Game Players Subject of Law Enforcement Fusion Center Alert

Google’s Ingress game, produced by Niantic Labs has prompted the Colorado Fusion Center to issue an alert regarding the game which has been shared nationally with other Regional and State Fusion Centers. The four page document entitled “Google’s Ingress Game Involves Taking Pictures of Infrastructure Facilities” highlights law enforcement concerns surrounding the game including instances of users that were detained as a result of playing.

The augmented reality game, which asks users to visit and photograph public spaces has apparently resulted in numerous suspicious activity calls from concerned citizens into local law enforcement.

According to the alert “the potential for the activity to be identified as surveillance could cause alarm as player of the game loiter around secure locations and attempt to take pictures of restricted areas” and that “unannounced player gatherings may occur at public facilities with numbers ranging from a couple of people to a few hundred as directed by the game.”

The report does not identify Ingress players as a threat but documents several instances in which players had encounters with law enforcement as a result of the game including one player who was detained by law enforcement for three hours after restarting his phone in front of a police station.

The alert also highlights several other potential problems including Ingress game play being used as cover for surveillance of a potential terrorist target and the fact that pictures taken “being accessible to other players and could be used in the future for malicious purposes.”

With Apple being a leading manufacturer of smart phones, the alert also notes that citizen participation is likely to increase when the game is released for iOS.

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