New York Will Bar Sex Offenders On Parole From Playing Pokémon Go

Image courtesy of Eduardo Woo

In an effort to keep sex offenders on parole from taking advantage of games like Pokémon Go to gain access to children, New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo says that population won’t be allowed to play the mobile game.

Cuomo announced today that he directed the New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision to restrict the state’s 3,000 sex offenders on parole from playing the popular game and others like it.

In order to help get that accomplished, Cuomo also wrote a letter [PDF] to Pokemon Go developer Niantic, asking it to crosscheck its players against a list of sex offenders provided by the state.

“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,” Governor Cuomo said. “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.”

The governor’s actions stem from a recent report by Senators Jeffrey D. Klein and Diane Savino that found that children playing the augmented reality game have “unknowingly been steered to locations in close proximity to, or even at, sex offender residences.”

Additionally, the ability to purchase “lure” modules that can be set at specific locations to bring Pokémon in greater numbers “also appears to have the potential to be abused by predators,” Cuomo says.

“Sex offenders who download the game legally could pinpoint hot spots where children congregate, like pokéstops or gyms, and meet them in person,” Sen. Savino said in a statement. “The investigation I conducted revealed that these spots were located near the homes of these dangerous individuals.”

As part of the Electronic Security and Targeting of Online Predators Act Cuomo introduced in 2008 in his role as Attorney General, sex offenders are required to register and keep up-to-date all current email accounts, screen names, and any other internet identifiers with the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services.