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'Pokemon Go' blocked from iPhone launch in China while state censor evaluates security risks

The highly-popular iPhone game Pokémon Go will not be available in China anytime in the near future, until government officials complete an investigation into the potential risks posed by the game, as well as others using augmented reality and location data.

The Niantic-developed game has yet to launch in China, but China's State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television is currently refusing to license the game for release in the major market. The censor is said by Reuters to be working with other departments in the government to assess the risks, due to a "responsibility to national security and the safety of people's lives and property."

For citizens, the censor is examining the "threat to transport and the personal safety of consumers." Since its launch elsewhere in the world, there have been accusations of "Pokémon Go" being the cause of numerous accidents, forcing Niantic to add an in-app prompt making sure players are not driving at high speed while they play the game.

The possible "threat to geographical information security" is also an issue for China, due to the game's need for players to move to different locations.

The country heavily restricts mapping activities as a matter of national security, with private mapping activities banned without obtaining permission. Since Pokémon Go relies on map data from Google to function, this makes the game concerning to the government.

It is unlikely that the Chinese government will allow for a launch in the game's current state, due to the mapping concerns. It is entirely possible for Niantic to figure out a way to retool the popular app to appease Chinese officials, in order to access the potentially lucrative market of 1.3 billion citizens.