Games companies agree to close sex offenders' accounts

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Seven video game companies have agreed to close the accounts of more than 3,500 registered sex offenders in New York State.

Operation Game Over, an initiative created with New York attorney general Eric T Schneiderman, has won support from Microsoft, Apple, Blizzard Entertainment, Electronic Arts, Disney Interactive Media Group, Warner Brothers and Sony.

"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," says Schneiderman.

"I applaud all the companies participating in this first-of-its-kind initiative for taking online safety seriously and purging their networks of sex offenders. Together we are making the online community safer for our children, not allowing it to become a 21st century crime scene."

Under New York State law, convicted sex offenders must register all of their email addresses, screen names, and other internet identifiers with the state - which then shares it with certain websites so they can wipe the offenders from their networks.

Operation Game over marks the first time this law has been applied to online video game systems.

The closed accounts represent about ten percent of the total 33,000 registered sex offenders in New York State. Schneiderman says gaming networks have frequently been used by pedophiles to contact children, citing a case in Monroe County where a 19-year-old man abused a 12-year-old boy after contacting him via Xbox Live.

"In Monroe County, we have seen dangerous people use gaming platforms to lure unsuspecting children," says Monroe County district attorney Sandra Doorley.

"As predators seek new ways to cause harm, Operation:Game Over provides a new shield to protect our families."