Child Molesters Lose Access to Video Games for Children, AG Eric Schneiderman Announces (UPDATE)

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Time for some good news and some bad news.

The good news? The online video game accounts of 3,500 sex offenders registered in New York have been closed.

The bad news? Apparently, 3,500 registered sex offenders were able to get gaming accounts with platforms frequented by children -- such as Electronic Arts and Disney Interactive -- in the first place.

The initiative, dubbed "Operation: Game Over" by State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, was announced today. How it works?

Under New York law, convicted sex offenders "must register all of their e-mail addresses, screen names, and other Internet identifiers with the state" so websites can "purge" networks of potential predators.

So, his office asked these companies -- which also included Warner Brothers, Sony, Microsoft, Apple, and Blizzard Entertainment -- to shut down offenders' accounts.

"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's announcement takes place after Richard Kretovic, a 19-year-old man from Monroe County, recently pled guilty to sexual abuse charges after meeting a 10-year-old boy via Xbox LIVE.

And while this is certainly great news, Runnin' Scared wants to know whether these companies are taking similar steps in other states -- and what kind of safeguards, if any, they have to prevent sex offenders from signing up for gaming accounts.

With the exception of Blizzard, for which we couldn't immediately find a press contact, Runnin' Scared reached out to all the companies affected by the agreement. We'll update if we hear back.

UPDATE: A Microsoft spokesperson had this to say:

"Microsoft has taken this action because of the specific partnership with the New York State Office of the Attorney General and the data collected under existing New York State law. However, we continue to work with law enforcement officials around the world, not only to ensure compliance with federal, state and local laws, but also to think creatively about online safety issues. We are continually evaluating new ways to help ensure a safer gaming environment and reduce potential risks for our 40 million members and fully support this initiative...We are comparing specific member details against data collected by New York State under the e-STOP law.  This is data that registered sex offenders in New York are required to provide to the state. "

Follow Victoria Bekiempis @vicbekiempis.


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4 comments
Whatisthisdoomallover
Whatisthisdoomallover

Instead of some kneejerk policy like this that let's them score votes with equally reactionary parents, why not just work with Microsoft et al to block those sex offender accounts from communicating with anybody under 18 while ensuring concerned parents can view their child's chat logs and set their kid's age correctly on the account.

Once again Eric Schneiderman and the state prove they are short sighted. Those games have addicted tens of millions of people. I rather sex offenders in their homes playing video games 16 hours a day than surfing for immoral porn or trolling the streets for their next victim.

Payton_vege
Payton_vege

Amazing write-up! This could aid plenty of people find out more about this particular issue. Are you keen to integrate video clips coupled with these? It would absolutely help out. Your conclusion was spot on and thanks to you; I probably won’t have to describe everything to my pals. I can simply direct them here!

David Hess
David Hess

 It is notable that the only case mentioned in the Attorney General's press release is that of "Richard Kretovic, a 19-year-old man from Monroe County, [who] pled guilty to sexual abuse charges after meeting a 12-year-old boy on the popular online video game system Xbox LIVE." Mr. Kretovic was not a registered sex offender at the time of his crime, and this announced action would not have prevented his crime. Apparently, the Attorney General's office is unable to point to any incident in New York State where a registered sex offender victimized someone using a gaming network, or they would have mentioned it. I make it a point to stay on top of such things, and I have never heard of any such case.

The primary risk is not from offenders we know about but those we don't know about. In New York State, 95% of those arrested for sex crimes have no prior convictions for sex crimes and thus are not listed on any registry. Training workshops were held across New York State last week that were attended by hundreds of law enforcement officers, corrections officers, etc. Research presented there indicates that New York's sex offender management policies have not made our communities safer.

“Operation: Game Over” is made possible by New York's eSTOP law which requires registered sex offenders to report their e-mail addresses and other Internet identifiers. They are then excluded from Facebook and other networks. Of course, this also prevents them from posting the true facts about registered sex offenders and "Operation: Game Over" because many news and media outlets require Facebook accounts in order to post comments.

Who is playing the real games here?

David Hess
David Hess

 Of course, the new policy would not have prevented the Monroe County crime mentioned in the article since the perpetrator was not a registered sex offender.

As usual, the new policy is basically useless apart from political purposes. In New York State, 95% of those arrested for sex crimes have no prior conviction for a sex crime. They would not be on any registry and this policy would have no affect. I have been unable to find a single case where a registered sex offender in New York has utilized a gaming network to victimize anyone.

There was an interesting conference last week about the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of New York Sex Offender management policies. It was attended by several hundred law enforcement officers, corrections officers, etc. I have written about it on my blog - http://sexoffenderfacts.blogsp...

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