Major video game companies, including Microsoft and Sony, are closing the accounts of registered sex offenders as part of an agreement with the New York Attorney General's office. This agreement is the latest effort to limit the activities that registered sex offenders can participate in due to their controversial status.
Other companies joining the agreement include Warner Brothers, Disney Interactive Media Group, and Apple. Lawmakers are attempting to persuade other companies to join as well.
The issue has implications for New York City sex crime defense.
Proponents of the agreement hope that forbidding registered sex offenders from playing online video games will make it more difficult to establish contact with young children. Online video games encourage frequent contact between strangers. Most games contain an audio feature, allowing users to speak to one another. However, questions remain over whether such denying access to sex offenders is an appropriate limitation of rights.
Although New York is the first state to ban sex offenders from online video games, this is not the first time registered sex offenders in New York have faced limited access to online forums. An agreement with the online social network Facebook in 2007 allows users to report sexually inappropriate online behavior. Facebook also responds to these reports within twenty-four hours.
The registration process for registered sex offenders is extensive. Email addresses and online gaming identities must be submitted to the state of New York. The information is then referenced against online gaming accounts. This process is repeated every week to keep the list of offenders updated.
It is important for registered sex offenders to make sure they are complying with these requirements, and for those facing charges to understand the potentially severe consequences of conviction.
If offenders fail to comply, intentional or unintentional access to restricted forums or websites could result in additional sex crime charges. Not only can this have a devastating effect on professional and family life, it could mean a lifetime on a Sex Offender Registry List.
Source: "Video-Game Companies Agree to Close Sex Offenders' Online Accounts," Joseph Goldstein, New York Times, 4-5-12