New York City

Pokemon No: Cuomo to prevent 3,000 registered sex offenders from playing viral game

Cuomo wants to protect children who play Pokemon Go

August 1, 2016 By Michael Virtanen Associated Press
Gov. Cuomo is trying to protect young New York Pokemon Go players from sex offenders. AP Photo/Thomas Cytrynowicz

ALBANY— New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday directed state authorities to prevent nearly 3,000 registered sex offenders now on parole from playing “Pokemon Go” in an effort to safeguard children who play.

The state’s Department of Corrections and Community Services is making that a condition of supervised release from state prison for all sex offenders. State officials recommended that county probation offices adopt the same policy.

“As technology evolves, we must ensure these advances don’t become new avenues for dangerous predators to prey on new victims,” Cuomo said.

The Democratic governor has also sent a letter to software developer Niantic requesting help prohibiting sexual predators from playing the online game, where players roam through the physical world searching for virtual Pokemon creatures.

Niantic did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

New York law requires registered sex offenders to keep current home addresses, email accounts, screen names and other internet identifiers with the Division of Criminal Justice Services, which maintains the publicly accessible online registry.

The division also shares that information with about 40 social media businesses and has contacted Niantic in an effort to work with that company, spokeswoman Janine Kava said.

The division has sent about 52,000 records related to 18,544 sex offenders since 2008 that have been used to remove names from social media sites, according to the governor’s office.

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State Sen. Jeff Klein, a Democrat who raised similar concerns last week, said New York already prohibits high-level offenders on parole from using social media. He proposed requiring game manufacturers take steps to ensure the virtual Pokemon creatures don’t pop up near offenders’ homes.

“Pokémon GO entertains our children, but it forgets about the reality of this world: it can be dangerous. Sex offenders who download the game legally could pinpoint hot spots where children congregate, like pokestops or gyms, and meet them in person,” said State Sen. Diane Savino. “I will continue to fight for legislation to keep our children safe. I thank Governor Cuomo for immediately responding to our investigation in the interest of children across New York State.” 

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