Time for some good news and some bad news.
The good news? The online video game accounts of 3,500 sex offenders registered in New York have been closed.
The bad news? Apparently, 3,500 registered sex offenders were able to get gaming accounts with platforms frequented by children — such as Electronic Arts and Disney Interactive — in the first place.
The initiative, dubbed “Operation: Game Over” by State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, was announced today. How it works?
Under New York law, convicted sex offenders “must register all of their e-mail addresses, screen names, and other Internet identifiers with the state” so websites can “purge” networks of potential predators.
So, his office asked these companies — which also included Warner Brothers, Sony, Microsoft, Apple, and Blizzard Entertainment — to shut down offenders’ accounts.
“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,” Schneiderman said in a statement.
Thursday’s announcement takes place after Richard Kretovic, a 19-year-old man from Monroe County, recently pled guilty to sexual abuse charges after meeting a 10-year-old boy via Xbox LIVE.
And while this is certainly great news, Runnin’ Scared wants to know whether these companies are taking similar steps in other states — and what kind of safeguards, if any, they have to prevent sex offenders from signing up for gaming accounts.
With the exception of Blizzard, for which we couldn’t immediately find a press contact, Runnin’ Scared reached out to all the companies affected by the agreement. We’ll update if we hear back.
UPDATE: A Microsoft spokesperson had this to say:
“Microsoft has taken this action because of the specific partnership with the New York State Office of the Attorney General and the data collected under existing New York State law. However, we continue to work with law enforcement officials around the world, not only to ensure compliance with federal, state and local laws, but also to think creatively about online safety issues. We are continually evaluating new ways to help ensure a safer gaming environment and reduce potential risks for our 40 million members and fully support this initiative…We are comparing specific member details against data collected by New York State under the e-STOP law. This is data that registered sex offenders in New York are required to provide to the state. “
Follow Victoria Bekiempis @vicbekiempis.