Governor Issues Letter to Niantic, Inc. Requesting Cooperation in Barring Sex Offenders From Playing Game
Division of Criminal Justice Services to Provide Most Up-to-Date Information to Niantic, Inc. and other Software Developers from Sex Offender Registry
Directive Follows Release of Alarming Report by State Senators Jeffrey Klein and Diane Savino Detailing Dangers of Pokémon GO in Exposing New York’s Children to Sex Offenders
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.
DCJS will also contact Apple and Google to inform them of these public safety concerns and work with them to enhance user safety. Software developers that operate mobile games like Pokémon GO should be entitled to the same information that is regularly shared with companies like Facebook, Apple and Microsoft.
These actions were spurred by a recent report by Senators Jeffrey D. Klein and Diane Savino demonstrating that children playing this popular augmented reality game have unknowingly been steered to locations in close proximity to, or even at, sex offender residences.
Additionally, a feature of the game, where, for a small fee, a “lure” can be purchased to intentionally encourage traffic to a particular location, also appears to have the potential to be abused by predators.