Pikachu go home: Alberta lawsuit says unwelcome visitors an invasion of privacy | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Pikachu go home: Alberta lawsuit says unwelcome visitors an invasion of privacy

A house in Torrington, Alta. is shown in a Wednesday, Aug.10, 2016 handout photo. A Canadian class action lawsuit has been filed against the creator of Pokemon Go on behalf of a property owner who says she's suffering from an invasion of privacy.THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Barbra-Lyn Schaeffer MANDATORY CREDIT
August 11, 2016 - 5:30 AM

CALGARY - Thanks to her kids and grandkids, Barbra-Lyn Schaeffer is fully aware of the Pokemon Go phenomena.

But when it comes to her home in Torrington, Alta., she just wants the Pokemon players to go away.

A Canadian class action lawsuit has been filed on her behalf against California-based Niantic Inc., the creator of Pokemon Go, saying she's suffering as a result of an invasion of privacy.

Schaeffer and her husband say they've been inundated by Pokemon Go players at their home 160 kilometres northeast of Calgary ever since it became the site of a Pokemon gym, where players can duel it out.

"It's been nothing but grief. People are trying to crawl over the fence and come in," said Schaeffer, in an interview Wednesday with The Canadian Press.

"We have German shepherds and ironically, at about the same time, we had a new litter and so the mom and dad dogs are a little nervous anyway. It hasn't helped that people are not respecting our property."

The lawsuit has been filed in Calgary and has not been certified by the courts which determines whether it can proceed.

The game sends players into the real world to search for digital monsters known as Pokemon, which appear on screen when users hold up their smartphones.

It uses digital beacons — called Pokestops and Pokegyms — and Schaeffer said there are plenty of them in their tiny hamlet of Torrington, population 179.

The community has been best known as the home of the Gopher Hole Museum, dedicated to stuffed Richardson's ground squirrels, in various everyday settings.

"There's six spots in Torrington which is really ironic for a town as small as it is. There's four regular Pokemons and the Gopher Museum is one of them," she said.

Schaeffer said she sent a request to Niantic asking her home be removed and only received a computer-generated response saying the company would look into it.

"The way I look at it, the game is fine. My kids play it, my grandkids play it but just don't do it at my house," Schaeffer said.

"We moved out here to be in the quiet, not to have people climb up over my fence. The last thing we need is strangers trying to peer in our windows. On Saturday, someone flew a drone up into our yard to play the game."

She said there are people sitting out in front of their home at all hours of the day and night.

The idea of launching the class-action lawsuit isn't about the money, she said. No dollar amount has been set.

"I just want to be left alone. I just want it removed and apparently they're not doing that. Whatever the lawyers feel they want to move forward with — we'll see what happens there," she said.

"It's going to be interesting to see how many people in Canada pop up with the same story."

Calgary litigation lawyer Clint Docken, whose firm is handling the case, said Schaeffer came to him as a result of "frustration." He said a similar class-action has been launched in the United States.

"The beauty of class proceedings is that you can get very creative in terms of settlements. Sometimes they involve cash, something they simply involve behaviour modification," Docken said.

"Our client's primary concern is to ensure that she's not bothered by these innumerable Pokeman Go players."

Docken said Schaeffer is the only plaintiff at this point, but he expects others.

"I don't think Barbra's situation is unique."

Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter

News from © The Canadian Press, 2016
The Canadian Press

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