New York State has teamed up with several major online game services to purge another 2,100 accounts held by registered sex offenders. Announced by Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman earlier this year, the state's "Operation: Game Over" initiative aims to block known "sexual predators" from accessing online gaming networks, which they could use to target underage victims with integrated text and voice chat features.
In one example, Schneiderman pointed to an event that occurred last year, where a 19-year-old Monroe County sex offender befriended a 12-year-old boy on Xbox Live. After gaining his trust over a three-month period, the 19-year-old invited the boy to his house where police say sexual abuse took place. Schneiderman said this isn't an isolated situation either, as similar incidents purportedly occur across the country.
New York's Electronic Securing and Targeting of Online Predators Act (e-STOP) requires convicted sex offenders to register all of their email addresses, screen names and other online identities with the state. That information is passed along to sites and services so they can show predators to the door, and Operation: Game Over is said to be the first initiative where e-STOP has been applied to online gaming platforms.
The latest crackdown follows the removal of 3,580 sex offender-created game accounts in April. That purging included users across services owned by Microsoft, Apple, Blizzard, EA, Disney, Warner Brothers and Sony, while this month's banishing involved accounts held with THQ, Gaia Online, NCSoft and Funcom. It also follows a 2009 effort that led to the deletion of more than 3,500 Facebook and MySpace accounts.
"The Internet is the crime scene of the 21st century, and we must ensure that online video game platforms do not become a digital playground for dangerous predators. That means doing everything possible to block sex offenders from using gaming systems as a vehicle to prey on underage victims," Schneiderman said. "I applaud the online gaming companies that have purged registered sex offenders from their networks in time for the holiday season."