New York Fears Pokemon Go is a Tool For Sex Offenders

Andrew M. Cuomo, the governor of New York state, has a problem with Pokemon Go. Specifically that sex offenders accessing the app.

The governor has directed the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision to restrict sex offenders under community supervision from using Pokemon Go as well as any other augmented reality games.

The new directive comes in the wake of a report by state Senators Jeffrey Klein and Diane Savino that showed 73 percent of the 100 sex offender addresses checked were within a half-block of a Pokemon, a PokeStop or a gym in New York City.


Cuomo also sent a letter to Pokemon Go developer Niantic requesting their assistance in prohibiting sexual predators from playing Pokemon Go or using the game lure children to their homes.

“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 in a statement. “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.”

In the report, the two outlined two solutions for what they believe is a game that while encouraging children to go outside and become physically active, also “creates an alarming safety issue that must be addressed immediately.”

Here is what they are proposing:

1. Legislation: Active Sex Offender Ban on Augmented Reality Games Currently, sex offenders in this category are banned from using social media, but the statute is not clear on whether a game such as this constitutes social media. This legislation uses the IDC’s new definition of “augmented reality games” to ban sex offenders on probation or conditional discharge pursuant to §65.10 of the New York Penal Law from downloading or playing any augmented reality game. This bill would keep the game out of the hands of known sex offenders with a recent history of offenses against children.


2. Legislation: In-Game Sex Offender Residence Restriction This new legislation would place restrictions inside the game that would prevent children from playing the game near a sex offender’s primary residence. The provisions include the following:

In-game objectives cannot be located within a 100-foot radius of the sex offender’s home.

The game developer must obtain information regarding all publicly-listed sex offender addresses from the Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) website, and must update this information on a monthly basis.

The attorney general will have the power to enforce the provisions of the act, including issuing cease and desist orders against the game developer in the event that they are not complying with the act.

Penalties include a maximum $100 per day fine for each location in the game that does not comply with the exclusion requirements in the act. These fines could be substantial, as there are thousands of sex offender residences around the state.

Do you think these proposals can prevent Pokemon Go from becoming a tool for sex offenders?


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