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Monday, August 1, 2016

Following "Alarming" Report, New York Bans Pokemon Go for Sex Offenders on Parole

So reports Governor Andrew Cuomo's office in this press release:

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today directed the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision to restrict sex offenders under community supervision from using Pokémon GO and similar games. In an effort to safeguard New York’s children, the Governor also sent a letter to software developer Niantic, Inc. requesting their assistance in prohibiting dangerous sexual predators from playing Pokémon GO.

“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." 
At the Governor’s direction, DOCCS has imposed a new condition of parole for sex offenders under community supervision that will prohibit them from downloading, accessing, or otherwise engaging in any Internet enabled gaming activities, including Pokémon GO. The directive will apply to nearly 3,000 Level 1, 2 and 3 sex offenders currently on parole. The Department of Criminal Justice Services will additionally be providing guidance to county probation offices recommending the adoption of this policy. ​
This ban was announced almost immediately after the "Alarming Report by State Senators Jeffrey Klein and Diane Savino Detailing Dangers of Pokémon GO in Exposing New York’s Children to Sex Offenders."  As I noted in a post last Saturday, Senators Klein and Savino's report was indeed alarming -- not because it revealed that the game had actually been subjected to malicious use by sex offenders, but because it revealed the Senators' inability to keep their staff from playing a game in which they capture and battle imaginary creatures.

News outlets report on this ban here, here, and here. Douglas Berman also posts about the ban here and highlights Senator Savino's admission that "there's no evidence to any kids were sexually abused after being lured by the Pokémon app."

It's excellent to see a state government spend so much time and effort combating a problem that has not yet manifested. Additionally, it is fantastic that parole condition prohibits sex offenders on parole from downloading, accessing, or otherwise engaging in "any Internet enabled gaming activities," which would presumably include any game that requires the Internet to play, no matter whether there is any contact or potential contact with other players, both in the real world or cyberspace.

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