Technology

NY governor orders ban on sex offenders playing Pokemon Go

New York's governor on Monday said he had instructed the state's corrections agency to restrict sex offenders on parole from using Pokemon Go and similar augmented-reality games.

"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," said Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) in a statement. He also said authorities needed to "ensure these advances don't become new avenues for dangerous predators to prey on new victims."

Cuomo directed the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision to forbid close to 3,000 sex offenders under community supervision from downloading or using "internet enabled gaming activities." The prohibition applies to sex offenders at all three risk levels used by the state.

He expressed concern about the way users of the application, which allows smartphone-wielding players to roam the real world looking for virtual Pokemon, can pay to put down a "lure" that brings Pokemon and players to a certain spot.

The decision comes after two lawmakers in the state sponsored a report that found some locations in the mobile game were near or directly at the residences of registered sex offenders. The July report found that there was nothing in state law that directly prohibited offenders from playing the game.

The push to put restrictions on how sex offenders use the emerging technology of augmented reality - where a virtual layer is placed over the real world - has unnerved some civil liberties advocates.

Cuomo also penned a letter to John Hanke, the CEO of Pokemon Go developer Niantic, Inc., asking for his assistance in barring offenders from using the game. He said the state would provide the company with a list of registered sex offenders.

"With this information, we hope you will be able to prevent identified sex offenders from using this game," he said. "Software developers that operate augmented reality games like Pokémon GO should be entitled to the same information that is regularly shared with companies like Facebook, Apple and Microsoft."

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