April 6, 2012
“Operation Game Over” Targets Sexual Predators
New York State is taking advantage of a newly passed law to help rid online gaming sites of sexual predators. The project, called “Operation Game Over” purged the rolls of video game platforms in order to protect children from online predators.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says, “We must insure online video game systems do not become a digital playground for dangerous predators. That means doing everything possible to block sex offenders from using gaming networks as a vehicle to prey on underage victims.”
Corporate participants of the operation included Microsoft, Apple, Sony, Electronic Arts, Disney Interactive Media Group, Warner Brothers and Blizzard Entertainment.
EWeek reports that Microsoft has over 40 million users on its Xbox Live online game system. Companies need a way to help protect its users from crimes of any sort.
Rich Wallis, vice president and deputy general counsel for Microsoft said in a statement: “Our partnership with the office of the New York Attorney General helps further this cause. By leveraging the online identity information all registered sex offenders are required to provide, we are able to help reduce potentially harmful situations.”
New York is tracking around 33,000 registered sex offenders. These offenders have to register their physical addresses and also their email addresses, screen names and other online identities that they use on the internet. Certain websites collect this information.
Schneiderman asked the gaming companies to remove the sexual predators from their gaming systems and the companies complied and purged privileges from 3.580 accounts from the platforms.
According to Pew Research, 97 percent of young people between the ages of 12 to 17 play video games. Of these around 25 percent play online platforms with strangers.
Laura Ahearn, executive director of Parents for Megan´s Law told ABC News, “What better place could there be to find unsuspecting children and teens at their most vulnerable than when they´re playing games in their own homes. Even the most vigilant parent may never know their child could be gaming and chatting with a registered sex offender.”
Schneiderman advises parents to keep their children safe with online games. He recommends choosing games that are age appropriate. He thinks parents should utilize the game console´s parental controls and keep the game system in a public room in the house and talk to kids about protecting identifying information.