New York Unplugs 2,100 Sex Offenders From Online Gaming Platform

Paul Lilly

Several game companies support an initiative to remove registered sex offenders from their online game worlds.

New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced that more than 2,100 additional accounts of registered sex offenders have been booted from online gaming platforms as part of "Operation: Game Over," a first of its kind initiative designed to protect children from online predators. This is the second major purging, with more than 3,500 accounts belonging to registered sex offenders having been removed earlier this year, Schneiderman said.

Operation: Game Over has the support and participation of several companies, including Microsoft, Apple, Blizzard Entertainment, Electronic Arts, Disney, Warner Brothers, and Sony. Schneiderman announced that a handful of additional companies recently joined the initiative, including Gaia Online, NCSOFT, Funcom, and THQ.

"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," said Attorney General Schneiderman. "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."

New York State's Electronic Securing and Targeting of Online Predators (e-STOP) law requires convicted sex offenders to register all of their email addresses, screen names, and other Internet identifiers with the state. That information is then passed on to certain websites.

Schneiderman pointed to the fact that many online games support built-in voice and chat functions, tools he claims have been used to lure underage victims across the country. Schneiderman gave an example of a 2011 incident involving a 19-year-old sex offender in Monroe County who befriended a 12-year-old boy on Xbox Live. He gained the boy's trust over a three-month period before inviting him over to his house where the abuse occurred.

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