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To Catch a Pikachu: NY Governor moves to ban sex offenders from Pokémon GO

ICE Graveyard 1/08/2016 Devin Coldewey

When you think about it, the ability for someone to put a “lure” on a spot of their choosing and attract young Pokémon fans to their location is slightly disturbing — which is why New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is trying to ban paroled sex offenders from playing Pokémon GO and other online games.

“At my direction, the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision has imposed a new condition of parole for sex offenders under community supervision,” wrote Cuomo in a letter (PDF) to Niantic, the game’s developer. “This new condition will prohibit them from downloading, accessing, or otherwise engaging in any Internet enabled gaming activities, including Pokémon GO.”

According to a corresponding post on the Governor’s official webpage, the restriction will apply to some 3,000 sex offenders; the letter also adds Niantic to the list of companies regularly updated on those offenders’ whereabouts and online handles.

Sex offenders, in New York at least, are prohibited from accessing certain features and must provide up-to-date info on their user names, apps being used, and so on. Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft are among the two dozen or so companies with whom this data is shared on a weekly basis.

This isn’t a lifetime ban — sex offenders who are no longer on parole are subject to considerable restrictions and monitoring, but the proposed ban would not apply to them.

State senators Jeffrey Klein and Diane Savino conducted independent investigations and found that many Pokéstops are located near locations of known sex offenders, as well; Reuters reported that the state is asking Niantic to move or remove those, but if so that request is not in the documents I read.

I’ve asked the Governor’s office for more information on this and a few other issues, such as what other online games will be affected by the ban, and will update this post when I hear back.

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