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Local Pols Warn of 'Pokémon Go' Stops' Proximity to Sex Offenders

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On Thursday, New York State Senators David Carlucci and Jeffrey D. Klein released a revealing investigative report titled “Protecting Our Children: How Pokémon GO and Augmented Reality Games Expose Children to Sex Offenders, Westchester and Rockland Counties.” The report followed an investigation conducted by senatorial staffers that entailed visiting 100 primary addresses of registered sex offenders in Westchester and Rockland counties to document possible overlap between game-objective sites and residences of local sex offenders whose crimes have included sexual abuse of children or possession of child pornography.

Disconcertingly, as the report—which is not yet available online but was obtained by Hudson Valley—details, 63 of these 100 residences were within half a block of a game-related item, including Pokémon characters, stops, and/or Gyms. Investigators caught 93 characters directly in front of these residences, and found that 14 Pokéstops throughout both counties were located within a half-block radius.

The investigation also concluded that, in the Senators’ view, the 2009 New York State law preventing sex offenders from using social media needs to be updated to ensure ARGs don’t inadvertently direct children to sex-offenders’ homes. In response, Governor Andrew Cuomo has already directed the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision to add a new clause to sex-offenders’ parole agreements that restricts them from partaking in all Internet-enabled gaming activities, including Pokémon Go, compelling them to pledge, “I further understand that I shall not be in the company of any person who is engaged in any Internet-enabled gaming activities, nor will I have any gaming software on any Internet-enabled device that I am permitted to access or otherwise possess.”   

Game users are able to report a Pokéstop for consideration to remove it from the game. Certain information must be provided, including the name of the stop, the address, and, if possible, its latitude and longitude. As of now, there is no option to request that Pokémon not appear at an address, though developer Niantic Labs does have the ability to remove established game locations.

 

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