Illinois lawmaker files bill to crack down on Pokémon Go

Illinois lawmaker files bill to crack down on Pokémon Go

Illinois House Bill 6601 would restrict Pokémon Go players from entering certain areas.

State Rep. Kelly M. Cassidy, D-Chicago, has filed a new bill that seeks to restrict Pokémon Go players from entering certain areas.

House Bill 6601, also known as the Location-based Video Game Protection Act, would require developers of augmented-reality and location-based video games such as Pokémon Go to remove areas from the game if the owners of those areas request it. The bill would provide a two-day window for game developers to remove the requested property from the game. It would also require any location-based game to create “an easily accessible procedure for removal.”

However, HB6601’s reach would go beyond private property. According to the bill, any site or location deemed “ecologically sensitive” or “historically significant” would be eligible for removal upon request by the owner, custodian or manager.

Penalties for not complying with the law include a $100 civil fine for the developer for each day the specified area is still open to players.

The motivation for the bill appears to come from a concern over possible disruption from Pokémon Go players in environmentally and historically sensitive areas.

“Don’t put it in the middle of a protected space … that would be true whether we’re talking about a Lincoln site where it should be a little more reverent than people screaming, ‘Bulbasaur’ and running after it,” Cassidy explained in an interview with DNAInfo.

Cassidy announced the introduction of the bill Aug. 24 with Jennifer Walling of the Illinois Environmental Council and Jack Darin of the Sierra Club. Cassidy calls the proposed bill “Pidgey’s Law” after one of the catchable characters featured in Pokémon Go.

Whatever the intentions, the implications of Pidgey’s Law are clear. HB6601 would not only burden Niantic Inc., which programs Pokémon Go, and make the game less interesting for its users, but would also deter others seeking to make new augmented-reality games. While Niantic has already installed location-removal technology in Pokémon Go, would-be video game designers would have to comply with numerous requests for location removal as well as develop costly programs to process those requests.

Then there are the fines. Fledgling augmented-reality-game enterprises would be hard-pressed to keep up with the fines that could accrue while fine-tuning the requisite location-removal technology.

Legislators in other states as well as on Capitol Hill have publicly considered restrictions for the worldwide video game phenomenon. But Illinois may be the first state to impose serious regulations and fines on augmented-reality games.

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