Let’s be honest: just about every single one of us agrees to Terms of Service without ever reading what we’re signing away. It’s no different for craze-of-the-week Pokémon Go, a game with a clause in its terms that strips you of your right to file a lawsuit against the company. However, if you’re one of the many people who just started using the app in the last few days, you still have time to opt out and preserve your constitutional right to a jury trial.
The Pokémon Go Terms of Service, as published by developer Niantic Labs, include a restrictive forced arbitration clause that both takes away the user’s right to file a lawsuit against Niantic, but also bars the user from joining others in any sort of class action against the company.
Instead, all legal disputes must be heard — on an individual basis — through private arbitration outside of a courtroom. Each user must mount their own case, even if all of the plaintiff users were wronged in the same exact way by the company.
So, imagine if there’s a huge data breach that results in the leaking of personal information for millions of Go users. Rather than have to answer for the totality of the error, the company would only have to face those few users who take the time — and have the resources — to bring a case before an arbitrator.
Even though those few users may bring identical cases to arbitration, there is always the chance that the arbitrator could rule differently in each instance. And if that arbitrator makes a mistake that would have changed the outcome, the Supreme Court has previously ruled that you’d have no recourse through the legal system.
SO HOW DO I OPT OUT OF THIS?
The Go terms do include an opt-out provision for people who don’t want to give up their rights. However, you must opt out within 30 days of first agreeing to the Terms of Service.
Luckily, many Pokémon Go users have only downloaded and activated the app in the last week, meaning they are still within that timeframe.
To Opt Out: Send an email ASAP (before the 30 days have passed) to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Arbitration Opt-out Notice” in the subject line and a clear declaration that you are opting out of the arbitration clause in the Pokémon Go terms of service.
I have spoken with Stewart Cowan a personal injury attorney personally about this subject. He told me to definitely opt out immediately, if I were to ever download the game. If you have downloaded this game please keep your rights and Opt Out of the standard terms of service agreement. You don’t want to lose your rights to potential litigation settlements.