Iran has the distinction of being the first country to ban Pokemon GO, citing ‘safety concerns’ as the reason behind the decision.
The BBC reports that Iran’s High Council of Virtual Spaces made the ruling, though they apparently hoped to negotiate new terms with developer Niantic – obviously this never came to be.
It’s unclear what specifically the Iranian Goverment means by ‘safety concerns’, though it’s likely to do with the controversy surrounding how much data the developer can access from its users.
At one point it looked like Niantic was actually able to gain full access to player’s Google accounts, though it was later confirmed that any personal info the company could see was a bug that was being ironed out.
Of course, other ‘security concerns’ could be based on potential trespassing or simply folk hurting themselves while out playing – God knows there’s been plenty of that around the world.
There’s also a very strong chance that the game simply finds itself at odds with the Islamic country’s religious regime.
Back in 2001, Pokemon cards were banned by Iran’s General Secretariat of the Council of Senior Religious Scholars thanks to a Fawata (religious ruling).
It was reasoned that the card game contained ‘forbidden images’ that served as propaganda for Judaism and Christianity – it was also considered to be a form of gambling (also illegal in Iran).
Unfortunately, the BBC reports that Saudi Sheikh Saleh al-Fozan feels Pokemon GO comes under the same ruling that banned the card game.
Considering the amount of problems trainers have had with Pokemon GO since the recent update, I feel the good people of Iran might actually be better off without it.
Ewan Moore is a journalist at UNILAD Gaming who still quite hasn’t gotten out of his mid 00’s emo phase. After graduating from the University of Portsmouth in 2015 with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies (thanks for asking), he went on to do some freelance words for various places, including Kotaku, Den of Geek, and TheSixthAxis, before landing a full time gig at UNILAD in 2016.