New York State Bans Sex Offenders From Online Gaming

by Jim Reilly on Apr 05, 2012 at 10:24 AM

As part of a new initiative dubbed “Operation: Game Over," more than 3,500 registered sex offenders were banned from online gaming.

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman made the announcement today, adding that participants in the program include: Microsoft, Apple, Blizzard Entertainment, Electronic Arts, Disney Interactive Media Group, Warner Brothers and Sony.

“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,” said Schneiderman.

“I applaud all the companies participating in this first-of-its-kind initiative for taking online safety seriously and purging their networks of sex offenders. Together we are making the online community safer for our children, not allowing it to become a 21st century crime scene.”

Operation: Game Over is the first time the law has been applied to online video game systems.

Convicted sex offenders in New York must register all of e-mail addresses, screen names, accounts so websites can remove potential predators. Gaming companies have now agreed to remove their game accounts as well.

“At Microsoft, we continually evaluate ways to manage safety for our 40 million Xbox live members and particularly for children on our service," said Rich Wallis, Vice President and Deputy General Counsel for Microsoft. "Our partnership with the Office of the New York Attorney General helps further this cause.

"By leveraging the online identity information all registered sex offenders are required to provide, we are able to help reduce potentially harmful situations. We’re supportive of Attorney General Schneiderman’s efforts to make the Internet, including online gaming environments like Xbox Live, safer for everyone.”

The Entertainment Software Association SVP Christian Genetski said, “Our industry welcomes appropriate efforts allowing people of all ages to play games in a safer environment. Online game play with friends is a social experience and we encourage parents to be aware of what games their children are enjoying and with whom they are interacting in the virtual space.

"Through the use of robust parental controls and awareness of the online world, playing games online can be a fulfilling and rich experience.”