If you’ve been playing “Pokemon Go,” then you may have signed away some important legal rights.
The wildly popular smartphone game has found itself at the centre of a new controversy focusing on its strict terms of service (ToS).
Everyone who signs up to the game has to agree to the ToS. They include all the standard provisions like that players must conform to certain standards, and that Niantic (the company behind the game) will company can delete your account without warning.
But the ToS also include an “arbitration notice” — which waives the users right to a jury trial or to join a class action against Niantic unless they explicitly opt out.
The clause was first noticed by Chris Morran over at The Consumerist, and you can read it below — emphasis ours:
“ARBITRATION NOTICE: EXCEPT IF YOU OPT OUT AND EXCEPT FOR CERTAIN TYPES OF DISPUTES DESCRIBED IN THE “AGREEMENT TO ARBITRATE” SECTION BELOW, YOU AGREE THAT DISPUTES BETWEEN YOU AND NIANTIC WILL BE RESOLVED BY BINDING, INDIVIDUAL ARBITRATION, AND YOU ARE WAIVING YOUR RIGHT TO A TRIAL BY JURY OR TO PARTICIPATE AS A PLAINTIFF OR CLASS MEMBER IN ANY PURPORTED CLASS ACTION OR REPRESENTATIVE PROCEEDING.”
In plain English, that means that in almost all legal disputes with Niantic, agreeing to the ToS mean you can’t have a jury trial; you need to use an arbitration process instead. And perhaps more importantly, you can’t join a class action lawsuit against the company, even if there’s a case affecting numerous users — you have to bring it separately instead, which will take significantly more effort and resources (and money).
You can opt out, if you contact Niantic within 30 days. (More info on how to do that below.)
This clause means it could be significantly harder for “Pokémon Go” players to seek redress in instances where they have been wronged. So if the company was hacked, say, and all of its users’ data got stolen, then these users wouldn’t be able to collectively bring a case against the company.
If you want to retain your rights to jury trial and to join a class action, it’s fairly simple. You can email Niantic at “[email protected]” with an “Arbitration Opt-out Notice” making it clear that you wish to opt out. (You can also write to them, if that’s your jam, at “2 Bryant St., Ste. 220, San Francisco, CA 94105.”)
But be quick: You’ve only got 30 days in which to do so.
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