Sex offenders banned from online gaming

December 19, 2012 New York State Attorney General's Office
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New York State General Eric T. Schneiderman on Wednesday announced that more than 2,100 additional accounts belonging to registered sex offenders have been purged from online gaming platforms as part of “Operation: Game Over,” a first-of-its-kind initiative to protect children from predators on online gaming networks. 

The announcement builds on Attorney General Schneiderman’s original agreement earlier this year that led to more than 3,500 accounts of registered sex offenders purged from other major online gaming companies including Microsoft, Apple, Blizzard Entertainment, Electronic Arts, Disney Interactive Media Group, Warner Brothers and Sony.

“The internet is the crime scene of the 21st century, and we must ensure that online video game platforms do not become a digital playground for dangerous predators. That means doing everything possible to block sex offenders from using gaming systems as a vehicle to prey on underage victims,” said Schneiderman. “I applaud the online gaming companies that have purged registered sex offenders from their networks in time for the holiday season.”
Under New York State’s Electronic Securing and Targeting of Online Predators Act (e-STOP) law, convicted sex offenders must register all of their e-mail addresses, screen names and other Internet identifiers with the state. That information is then made available to certain websites so they can purge potential predators from their online worlds. Operation: Game Over is the first time e-STOP has been applied to online gaming platforms.

Many online video game platforms allow users to access the Internet and send messages to other players anonymously. According to the Pew Research Center, 97 percent of teens (12-17) play computer, web, portable, or console games, and 27 percent of teens (12-17) play games with people they don’t know online.

Operation: Game Over follows recent incidents in which sexual predators using voice and text chat functions in online gaming services to lure underage victims across the country. In 2011, a 19-year-old man in Monroe County was indicted on sexual abuse charges after allegedly meeting a 12-year-old boy on the popular online video game system Xbox Live.

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