I understand that legislation keeping up with technology is always a challenge in America, and lord knows Pokemon Go is causing me headaches at work as our company's mobility device administrator, but boy, this didn't take long, did it?
Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, a Brooklyn Democrat and established nanny-stater, said he is "concerned” that people playing Pokemon Go, the viral augmented reality game, pose a risk to public safety.
"Like any new technology, it has its advantages and disadvantages, and like any new technology, it has to be looked at very, very carefully. Everything comes down to people’s responsibility as well as corporate responsibility,” Ortiz said Tuesday. "Every single one of us who might want to play this game have to be very cautious. Who’s sending what, and what is the follow up? Everyone should be cautious to make sure that no intruders will be able to tap into this and have people think they’re going to the park when in reality they’re going to a be targeted by some rapist. People could think they’re going to the bank, but in reality, someone is waiting to take their money.”
Already, people in Baltimore and elsewhere have been mugged while glued to their phones, which display balls and digital avatars on videos of people's actual surroundings.
Ortiz said he was concerned people would play in busy streets, or while driving cars. The latter fear is shared by the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles, whose leader, Terri Egan, warned that it could have “tragic real-world consequences.”
"Catching virtual creatures to get to the next level is not worth risking your life or the lives of others,” she stated.
Ortiz has a reputation at the Capitol for being a noodge: he has proposed banning the use of salt in restaurants, taxes on alcohol and sugary drinks as well as admission to strip clubs.
He said he’s not prepared to introduce legislation relating to Pokemon Go or other games, at least not yet, but hopes game companies recognize potential risks in their products and react accordingly. He pointed to a recall announced this week of hoverboards — which, yes, Ortiz also carries a bill to regulate.
"My big call is to the company, to watch what is happening. They should be vigilant before they become liable,” he said. "If it’s an issue they can pull out and fix, they won’t be liable. Otherwise, I will introduce legislation.”
So my immediate question comes back to this topic: not only do I worry about police harassing people of color who are safely playing the game in their own neighborhoods and homes, but how long before actually playing Pokemon Go becomes yet another violation of the law that police selectively enforce against people of color?
Here's an idea, if you're worried about regulating people's safety, DO SOMETHING ABOUT GUN CONTROL AND UNIVERSAL BACKGROUND CHECKS RATHER THAN POKEMON GO.
This is going to be another long, brutal summer I think.