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Online Gaming Accounts of New York Registered Sex Offenders Restricted or Closed

According to New York Attorney General Eric T. Scheiderman, around 5,600 online gaming accounts belonging to sex offenders registered with the State of New York have been restricted or canceled. Gaming companies Microsoft, Sony, Blizzard, Electronic Arts, Warner Brothers, Disney, Funcom, THQ, Gaia Online, NCSoft and Apple all cooperated in “Operation: Game Over,” resulting in the closure of sex offenders’ gaming accounts or revocation of their online communications privileges. The move was an initiative of the Entertainment Software Association.

New York requires registered sex offenders to list all of their email addresses, screen names and similar online identifiers in order to limit their access to certain websites such as Facebook. Scheiderman said sexual predators had been using the voice and text chat features in online games to identify and lure potential victims.

“The Internet is the crime scene of the 21st century, and we must ensure that online video game platforms do not become a digital playground for dangerous predators,” he said. “That means doing everything possible to block sex offenders from using gaming systems as a vehicle to prey on underage victims.”

As one example, Richard J. Kretovic, a 19-year-old resident of Monroe County, New York, pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a 12-year-old boy he met online on XBox Live in 2011. He lured the boy to his house, where the abuse occurred. Kretovic was sentenced to a six-month jail term and 10 years’ probation in May 2012.

The logic of banning registered sex offenders from online gaming forums is hard to understand, though, as it does not affect unregistered offenders and will drive sexual predators to open accounts using pseudonyms and anonymous email addresses. Meanwhile, sex offenders who were not abusing their online gaming account privileges – including those whose offenses did not involve children – are being collectively punished by having their accounts restricted or canceled.

Sources: New York Times, CBS6 Albany,

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