Sex offenders banned from ‘Pokemon Go,’ Gov. Cuomo says

Posted at 12:43 PM, Aug 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-01 16:47:54-04
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 20: Pokemon GO players meet at Sydney Opera House on July 20, 2016 in Sydney, Australia. The Opera House hosted a Pokemon gathering, adding lures to all nearby Pokestops. The augmented reality app requires players to look for Pokemon in their immediate surroundings with the use of GPS and internet services turning the whole world into a Pokemon region map. The hugely popular app has seen Nintendo shares soar following its limited release in the US, Australia and New Zealand on July 6. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

Paroled sex offenders will be blocked from playing Pokemon Go as a condition of parole, Gov. Cuomo announced Monday. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

NEW YORK — Sex offenders on parole will not gain Pokemon Master status anytime soon.

Governor Cuomo ordered the state Corrections Department to ban paroled sex offenders from playing Pokemon Go. The new condition of parole will block about 3,000 Level 1, 2 and 3 sex offenders currently on parole from downloading or playing and sort of Internet enabled gaming activities.

“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,” Gov. Cuomo said. “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.”

Cuomo also sent a letter to Pokemon Go developer Niantic, Inc. requesting their help in blocking sexual predators from the popular game.  The state’s Division of Criminal Justice Services will give Niantic an up-to-date list copy of the Sex Offender Registry.

“Working together, we can ensure that this danger today does not escalate into a tragedy tomorrow,” Gov. Cuomo wrote in his letter to Niantic.

Cuomo’s ban comes days after State Sens. Jeff Klein (D-Bronx) and Diane Savino (D-S.I) pointed out that Pokemon frequently appear near the homes of sex offenders. The report also notes that a game feature, a lure drawing players to a certain area, could be abused by predators.

“Pokemon Go provided sex offenders with a virtual road map to our children. We know that pedophiles always seek new ways to lure victims and this new technology that entertains our kids, could also bring them close to dangerous individuals instead of Pokemon,” said Sen. Klein. “While this directive is a good first step, there’s still more work to be done legislatively to protect children who use this technology and I will continue to monitor this situation.”

Staffers from the Senators offices spent two weeks playing Pokemon Go in front of and near the homes of 100 high-level sex offenders. They found 73 percent of the addresses were within a half-block of a Pokemon, PokeStop or PokeGym.

“Pokemon Go entertains our children, but it forgets about the reality of this world: it can be dangerous,” Sen. Savino said. “I will continue to fight for legislation to keep our children safe.”