New York removes sex offenders from online video games

Microsoft, Sony, Apple and others removed registered sex offenders from their online games

Accounts of over 3,500 registered sex offenders in New York state were removed from online video game platforms in an operation initiated by its attorney general, which aims to prevent the misuse of the games by sexual predators.

The offenders were removed from the games after the office of attorney general Eric T. Schneiderman approached gaming companies, including Microsoft, Sony, and Apple, to remove registered sex offenders on their networks.

"We must ensure 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," Schneiderman said in a statement Thursday while announcing the "Operation: Game Over."

Under New York State law, convicted sex offenders must register all of their email addresses, screen names, and other Internet identifiers with the state, and that information is then made available to certain websites so they can purge potential predators from their online networks. Microsoft, Apple, Blizzard Entertainment, Electronic Arts, Disney Interactive Media Group, Warner Brothers and Sony were the companies participating in the operation.

The 3,580 accounts that were purged, or had their communication privileges suspended from the gaming platforms, do not include some more removed from Sony's online games, as the company was unable to provide the number expected to be purged before the announcement.

The operation coincides with recent incidents of sexual predators using voice and text chat functions in online gaming services to lure underage victims across the country, the office of the attorney general said.

The office cited the case of Richard Kretovic, a 19-year-old man from Monroe County, who pleaded guilty earlier this month to sexual abuse charges after meeting a 12-year-old boy on online video game system Xbox LIVE. Kretovic is said to have gained the boy's trust over a period of three months, and then invited him over to his house where the abuse occurred, according to police.

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John Ribeiro

IDG News Service
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