‘Pokémon GO’ Ban For Registered Sex Offenders In New York State

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has spoken. Registered sex offenders in New York State will not be allowed to play the popular Pokémon GO or other similar online games.

According to a press statement from the governor’s office yesterday, Cuomo has issued a letter to Niantic, Inc., requesting cooperation in barring sex offenders from playing the game, or any other interactive online game for that matter. Reportedly, the Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) will provide the most up-to-date information from the Sex Offender Registry in the state to Niantic, Inc. and other software developers.

As stated in the press release, DCJS will also contact Apple and Google to advise them of the public safety concerns and will work with both organizations to enhance user safety. Reportedly, software developers operating mobile games such as Pokémon GO should be entitled to receive the same information regularly shared with companies like Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft.

The Governor’s office is concerned that sex offenders will use games like Pokémon GO to lure children into dangerous situations.

“Protecting New York’s children is priority number one and, as technology evolves, we must ensure these advances don’t become new avenues for dangerous predators to prey on new victims,” Cuomo said in the press release.

“These actions will provide safeguards for the players of these augmented reality games and help take one more tool away from those seeking to do harm to our children.”

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With these new gaming restrictions in force, any registered sex offender caught playing Pokémon GO, or any equally restricted software title, will be deemed to be in violation of their parole. In addition, it will now be a condition for parole that inmates agree to refrain from playing Pokémon GO or other restricted online games. As stated in the press release, the directive will apply to nearly 3,000 Level 1, 2 and 3 sex offenders currently on parole.

According to a report by BGR News, Senator Diane Savino explained the specific reasons why lawmakers in New York have the online game on their radar in the first place and detailed the dangers. She said sex offenders who download the game could pinpoint hot spots where children congregate, like “pokestops” or gyms, and meet them in person.

To back this up, Savino, together with Senator Jeffrey Klein, did some investigative work and found out that many of those “pokestops” and gyms are already located in the vicinity of registered sex offenders.

In addition, there is a feature of the game where – for a small fee – a “lure” can be purchased “to intentionally encourage traffic to a particular location,” which also has the potential to be abused by sexual and other predators.

The Electronic Security and Targeting of Online Predators Act was introduced by Governor Cuomo when he was Attorney General back in 2008. That act is intended to protect New York’s children from online predators.

Reportedly, this landmark legislation has led to many groundbreaking protections for internet users and also mandates that sex offenders register – and keep up-to-date – all current email accounts, screen names, and other internet identifiers with the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services.

The list is passed on to more than two dozen social networking companies weekly, and those sites use the information to purge offenders from their membership rosters.

Now the additional protection for children playing Pokémon GO takes the legislation one step further.

Pokémon GO entertains our children,” Savino said, “but it forgets about the reality of this world: it can be dangerous.”

[Image via Matthew Corley/Shutterstock]