There are a few thousand fewer registered sex offenders playing on online gaming networks today thanks to “Operation: Game Over,” a joint effort between the New York attorney general’s office and half a dozen gaming companies to purge the convicted felons from their servers.
New York state law requires convicted sex offenders to register their e-mail addresses, screen names, and other online aliases with the state. Companies including Microsoft, Sony, Apple, Blizzard, EA, Disney Interactive, and Warner Bros. are now using this information to block 3,580 users from their networks, according to an announcement made this morning by New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman.
Calling the project a first-of-its-kind effort to “ensure online video game systems do not become a digital playground for dangerous predators,” Schneiderman defended the need for the restrictions by highlighting the case of Richard Ketovic, a Monroe County, NY man who last month pled guilty to sexually abusing a 10-year-old boy after first making contact through Xbox Live.
“By leveraging the online identity information all registered sex offenders are required to provide, we are able to help reduce potentially harmful situations,” Microsoft VP and Deputy General Counsel Rich Wallis said in a statement. “We’re supportive of Attorney General Schneiderman’s efforts to make the Internet, including online gaming environments like Xbox Live, safer for everyone.”
While acknowledging that current game consoles already have parental controls that could protect children from unwelcome advances, Schneiderman argued that “parents often do not realize that gaming consoles have these capabilities.” He also noted that 27 percent of teenagers aged 12 to 17 play games online with people they don’t know.