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New York law aims to protect children from sex offenders using Pokemon Go

Pokemon Go is now officially a violation of parole for approximately 3,000 New Yorkers who are listed on the sex offender registry.

Published onAugust 1, 2016

Pokemon Go Splash screen 2

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an order this week to make it illegal for registered sex offenders on parole to use Pokemon Go. The resulting change in parole restrictions will make any attempts to catch ‘em all by registered sex offenders a no-go, and violators may be returned to prison after a court hearing.

The concern is that sex criminals might use the game’s lure system to stalk potential victims near PokeStops. Although muggings and other crimes have been associated with the game’s mechanics over the past few weeks, there has not yet been a reported instance of it being used for sex crimes.

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What’s more is that the Division of Criminal Justice Services is providing up-to-date information about the approx. 3,000 sex offenders currently on parole in New York to Niantic. The Division is asking the game development company to cooperate with them in identifying Pokemon Go playing sex criminals.

The directive applies to Level 1, 2, and 3 sex offenders, but it may be extended to a wider group of low level offenders numbering about 5,000. Authorities will be attempting to work with Apple and Google as well to identify active Pokemon Go accounts in the hands of these paroled individuals.

Since New York’s Electronic Security and Targeting of Online Predator’s act requires people in the sex offender registry an up to date list of all email accounts, screen names, and internet identities, these could be used to tie violators to their Pokemon Go accounts.

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.

“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,” said Cuomo. “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.”

While primarily affecting Pokemon Go, this directive has a more general prohibition that includes a wide swath of online gaming. People who are on parole and on the sex offender registry are banned from “downloading, accessing, or otherwise engaging in any internet-enabled gaming activities.”

It should be noted that once these people have served the full term of their parole, these restrictions will no longer apply to them.

What are your thoughts regarding New York’s ban on Pokemon Go for sexual predators? Let us know your take in the comments below.

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