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Forced Arbitration Clause Could Damper Pokémon Go Enthusiasm
If you haven’t yet downloaded the Pokémon Go smartphone app and become part of the country’s latest craze, you may want to think twice before pushing that button.
The reason is that the makers of the game have included a forced arbitration clause into their user agreement. That means that if the company suffers a data breach that endangers your private information, you will not be able to sue it in court. You will instead have to go to arbitration.
What’s So Bad About That?
Plenty. Forced arbitration is a shield that service providers and many employers use to protect themselves from having a lawsuit against them heard in a courtroom.
You’ve more than likely already agreed to forced arbitration clauses several times. When you signed a contract agreeing to buy a smartphone, take out a student loan or even lease a car, you agreed that an arbiter would decide any dispute between you and the service provider. You have basically given up your Seventh Amendment right to a jury trial for a legal dispute that exceeds $20.
The problem is that in the vast majority of instances the service provider is a client of the arbiter. Research shows that the more cases an arbiter hears involving a company, the better the chances that company has of winning. Incredibly, the U.S. Supreme Court has continued to allow this practice despite numerous challenges.
At least Pokémon Go users can opt out of the clause as long as they do so via e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or regular mail (2 Bryant Ste. 220, San Francisco, CA 94105) within 30 days of first using the app.