New York state is banning sex offenders from playing “Pokémon GO,” and Governor Andrew Cuomo is asking the game’s developer to assist in the process.
The issue at the heart of this ban is an in-game mechanic wherein players can place an item on Pokéstops — real-world locations where players go as part of the game — that attracts Pokémon to that location.
As a result, Pokéstops with lures attached often draw players, and Governor Cuomo believes that sex offenders could use the device to lure children who are playing the game.
Governor Cuomo issued the following statement regarding the ban:
“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. 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.”
The basis for these bans is New York State’s sex offender registry, which “requires sex offenders to register and keep up-to-date all current email accounts, screen names, and any other Internet identifiers with the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services.” That information is then disseminated to “more than two-dozen social networking companies on a weekly basis.”
Governor Cuomo is hoping to add “Pokémon GO” to that list of social networking companies receiving that list, and that the folks at Niantic Labs (where “Pokémon GO” was created) will implement an in-game ban for folks on said list.
It’s not clear if Niantic Labs will enact the software-side ban of New York state’s registered sex offenders — a company representative did not immediately respond to request for comment.