Can’t Catch ‘Em All: New York Blocks ‘Pokemon Go’ for Sex Offenders

Men play the augmented reality mobile game ''Pokemon Go'' by Nintendo on a mobile phone in Tokyo, Japan July 22, 2016. REUTERS/TORU HANAI - RTSJ4LO

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has taken steps to keep Pokemon Go out of the hands of convicted sex offenders.

The Department of Corrections and Community Supervision will now need to make sure a sex offender keeps their nose clean and their Pokedex empty. The new directive is a common-sense approach at curtailing behavior that could endanger young players of the mobile sensation.

Of particular concern is the “lure” system that attracts Pokemon, and in turn players, to particular areas. The opportunity for predatory acts within a system almost guaranteed to attract children to a particular spot should be pretty obvious. Criminals have already used this tactic for muggings since the game’s release.

According to the official statement, the 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.” This will apply to the nearly 3,000 registered sex offenders in the state.

The governor has sent a letter to Niantic CEO John Hanke regarding his instructions that the company receive “the most up-to-date information of offenders within the Sex Offender Registry.” Additionally, the DCJS “will also contact Apple and Google to inform them of these public safety concerns and work with them to enhance user safety.”

Senators Jeffrey D. Klein and Diane Savino are responsible for bringing the matter to Governor Cuomo’s attention, in a report that claims children “have unknowingly been steered to locations in close proximity to, or even at, sex offender residences.” According to Senator Klein, that research “uncovered a disturbing correlation between high level sex offenders’ residences and in-game objectives.”

Both praised Governor Cuomo for taking immediate and decisive action in trying to ensure that when your kids are hanging around your local Pokestops, no one can secretly… Pikachu. (Sorry, had to.)

Follow Nate Church @Get2Church on Twitter for the latest news in gaming and technology, and snarky opinions on both.


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