New York State is clamping down on sex offenders on parole playing Pokémon Go.
Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an edict on Monday to the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) to stop any sex offender currently on parole to immediately stop playing Pokémon Go and “similar” but unidentified games.
The directive applies to nearly 3,000 Level One, Two, and Three sex offenders currently on parole, according to the governor’s office. A similar directive will be provided to county probation offices—though they will have the option to adopt it.
The move comes nearly a month after Pokémon Go launched to mobile devices and became an overnight phenomenon. The game has tens of millions of players, including many children that walk around town to find Pokémon. While the game has had its critics, including those who were upset to see people roaming around their properties searching for Pokemon, its popularity hasn’t waned.
However, as the Governor’s new directive shows, it’s not all fun and games.
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The Governor’s move comes just days after New York State Senators Jeffrey Klein and Diane Savino issued a report called “Protecting Our Children: How Pokémon Go and Augmented Reality Games Expose Children To Sex Offenders.” The report was based on investigations that discovered sex offenders were using Pokémon Go to lure children to locations “in close proximity to, or even at, sex offender residences,” the governor’s office says.
Indeed, the senators said that they found several areas in which sex offenders were creating fake Pokéstops, or places to fill up on goods to catch more Pokémon, at their residences. They also analyzed the game’s Pokéstops and Pokémon locations to go where children might be.
“Pokémon Go entertains our children, but it forgets about the reality of this world: it can be dangerous,” Sen. Savino said in a statement. “Sex offenders who download the game legally could pinpoint hot spots where children congregate, like Pokéstops or gyms, and meet them in person. The investigation I conducted revealed that these spots were located near the homes of these dangerous individuals.”
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In addition to ensuring all sex offenders are off Pokémon Go, Governor Cuomo also issued a letter to Niantic Labs, the game’s developer, informing it of his decision and providing the latest list of sex offenders in hopes the developer will ban sex offenders. The governor has also directed the state’s criminal justice arm to contact Apple (AAPL) and Google (GOOGL) “to inform them of these public safety concerns and work with them to enhance user safety.”
New York State is in ongoing contact with technology companies. Since 2008, the state has sent about 52,000 records related to more than 18,500 state-registered sex offenders to 40 unidentified technology companies. The records are sent weekly so companies can remove the sex offenders from their sites.