First-Of-Its-Kind Online Video Game Sweep Protects The Safety And Security Of Children Statewide
Microsoft, Apple, Blizzard, Electronic Arts, Disney, Warner Bros. & Sony Agree To Remove New York’s Registered Sex Offenders
Schneiderman: We Will Not Let Online Gaming Systems Become A Digital Playground For Sexual Predators
NEW YORK – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced that more than 3,500 accounts of New York registered sex offenders have been purged from online video game platforms as part of “Operation: Game Over,” a groundbreaking initiative with participation from Microsoft, Apple, Blizzard Entertainment, Electronic Arts, Disney Interactive Media Group, Warner Brothers and Sony. The Attorney General’s database sweep is a first-of-its-kind effort to protect children from predators on video game networks in New York State.
“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 Attorney General 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.”
Under New York State law, convicted sex offenders must register all of their e-mail addresses, screen names, and other Internet identifiers with the state, and that information is then made available to certain websites so they can purge potential predators from their online networks. After the Office of Attorney General approached gaming companies to remove registered sex offenders on their networks, the companies agreed to purge the accounts. Operation: Game Over is the first time the law has been applied to online video game systems.
According to the Pew Research Center, 97% of teens (12-17) play computer, web, portable, or console games and 27% of teens (12-17) play games online with people they don’t know.
Almost all video game consoles with online capabilities allow users to access the Internet and send messages to other players under anonymous screen names. Many popular games are specifically designed so that players must interact and play with each other. Games can have thousands of people – both children and adults – playing online at one time. Parents often do not realize that gaming consoles have these capabilities, or that parental controls exist for these systems. Password-protected “family settings” on many online gaming platforms allow parents to restrict Internet access, track content and monitor contacts.
As a result of Operation:Game Over, 3,580 accounts of New York state sex offenders have been purged – or their communication privileges suspended – from the gaming platforms owned by Microsoft, Apple, Blizzard Entertainment, Electronic Arts, Warner Bros. and Disney Interactive Media Group. Sony was unable to provide the number expected to be purged by the date of this press release.
Operation:Game Over coincides with recent incidents of sexual predators using voice and text chat functions in online gaming services to lure underage victims across the country. Earlier this month, Richard Kretovic, a 19-year-old man from Monroe County, pled guilty to sexual abuse charges after meeting a 12-year-old boy on the popular online video game system Xbox LIVE. The man gained the boy’s trust over a period of three months, and then invited the boy over to his house where the abuse occurred, according to police.
Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorleyhailed Attorney General Schneiderman’s leadership in blocking sexual predators from using online gaming technology to prey on children.
“Attorney General Schneiderman’s leadership in removing sexual predators from online gaming systems has delivered real results. In Monroe County, we have seen dangerous people use gaming platforms to lure unsuspecting children,” said District Attorney Doorley. “As predators seek new ways to cause harm, Operation:Game Over provides a new shield to protect our families. I look forward to working with the Attorney General and all of our partners in law enforcement to make the Internet a safer, more secure place for children around the state.”
More hysteria, next up, a colony on mars."