Pokemon Go Sex-Offender Ban Raises Eyebrows

Civil liberties advocates have issues with NY parolee mandate
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 22, 2016 3:07 PM CDT
Pokemon Go Sex-Offender Ban Raises Eyebrows
No Pokemon Go for sex offender parolees in New York state, per the governor's recent edict.   (Salwan Georges/Detroit Free Press via AP)

Sex offenders in New York state will find a new restriction they'll have to agree to before they're granted parole: no playing Internet games like Pokemon Go, the New York Times reports. Gov. Andrew Cuomo pushed the policy through earlier this month after two Democratic state senators conducted an informal probe that found Pokemon characters floating near 57 of 100 addresses of registered sex offenders in NYC, presenting what the senators call a "virtual road map to our children"; add in Pokemon gyms and PokeStops and that number rises to 73 out of 100, per the New York Daily News. Of specific concern, per Cuomo's camp: the game's "lure" feature, which can be used to gather Pokemon at certain sites and potentially be "abused by predators" looking to attract young players.

But some are crying foul on the civil liberties front, with reps from organizations such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the New York Civil Liberties Union noting the mandate wasn't fully considered, would hinder ex-inmates from assimilating back into a regular lifestyle, and wouldn't necessarily boost public safety: Just 7% of juvenile sexual assault victims are attacked by strangers, Justice Department stats show. But Cuomo's chief counsel tells the Times the new rule is worth it even if just a "small percentage" of kids are protected. (Other possible harm to kids via Pokemon Go: parents neglecting them to play the game.)

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