December 20, 2012
NY Attorney General Purges Online Gaming Accounts Of 2,100 Sex Offenders
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced that accounts of more than 2,100 more registered sex offenders have been removed from online gaming communities as part of a first-of-its-kind initiative to protect children from predators within online gaming networks.
The program, dubbed “Operation: Game Over,” coincides with recent cases of sexual predators using voice and text chat features in online gaming platforms to lure underage victims across the country.
“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,” Schneiderman said in an announcement.
Under current New York law, all sex offenders are required to provide the state with their digital identities, including all online accounts, email addresses, screen names and any other identifying data a person might use online.
As part of ℠Game Over,´ authorities took this information to online gaming developers, and asked them to purge the accounts of the sex offenders.
And while it´s not clear whether such requests can be enforced with each developer, so far there has been minimal, if any, resistance.
Several companies, such as Gaia Online, NCSOFT Corporation, FunCon and THQ, Inc., have already signed on to participate. Additional accounts that were removed include those from Sony, which had agreed to participate in the first phase of Operation: Game Over, but was unable to complete the identification process by Wednesday´s announcement deadline.
“I applaud the online gaming companies that have purged registered sex offenders from their networks in time for the holiday season. Together, we are making the online community a safer place for the children of New York,” Schneiderman said.
Child safety advocates praised the program´s results.
“I applaud Attorney General Schneiderman for continuing this bold action to protect New York´s children from becoming victims. This is a groundbreaking effort that keeps the online community safer for our children, and sends a strong message that sexual predators can´t hide behind anonymous profiles online to prey on victims anymore,” said Laura Ahearn, Executive Director of Parents for Megan´s Law and the Crime Victims Center.
Schneiderman´s office provided the following tips for parents to help protect children from sexual predators within online video gaming networks:
- Choose games appropriate for your child´s age and maturity level;
- Use your game console´s parental controls (control which games can be played, for how long, and whether they can play online);
- Keep computer or game console in a public area of the home;
- Talk to your kids about how to protect identifying information, and to avoid and report conversations that make them uncomfortable.
New York State has more than 34,000 registered sex offenders: 13,260 are level 1 registered offenders (lowest risk of repeat offense); 12,342 are level 2 registered offenders (moderate risk of repeat offense); 8,596 are level 3 registered sex offenders (high risk of repeat offense and a threat to public safety exists), according to the Division of Criminal Justice. There are roughly 750,000 registered sex offenders in the United States.