At the request from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the state’s Department of Corrections and Community Supervision will ban nearly 3,000 paroled sex offenders from playing PokémonGo.
“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,” Cuomo said in a news release. “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.”
The governor’s decision came days after two New York state senators released a report that found that Pokémon and game items often appeared next to sex offenders’ houses. Investigators visited 100 homes of offenders convicted of sexual abuse of children or the possession of child pornography and found that Pokémon appeared in front of 57 percent of them. Overall, the investigation found that 73 of the 100 addresses belonging to sex offenders that were surveyed were within half a block from a Pokémon, PokéStop or a gym — all key locations for the game’s players that could draw children near.
“While children believe they are out to catch a Pokémon, what might really be lurking could be a predator instead of a Pikachu,” state Sen. Jeff Klein (D-Bronx/Westchester) said in a news release.
The governor was concerned that “lures,” a feature in the game that allows a player to attract Pokémon to a specific location, could also be used by predators to attract children hunting the critters.
Cuomo also sent a letter to the game’s creator, Niantic Inc., to ask for its help to prevent offenders from downloading the game. He asked the state’s Division of Criminal Justice Services to share an updated registry of sex offenders with the company.
In 2008, Cuomo introduced legislation that required state agencies to give information about sex offenders to dozens of social media companies. The companies then use that list to keep the offenders off their platforms.