A controversial 2008 bill called e-STOP took away registered sex offenders’ right to anonymity online, making the Attorney General’s most recent sweep of gaming accounts possible.
Gamers in New York, let’s hope you’re not convicted sex offenders. You’ll probably have to put down that controller.
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced the deletion of more than 2,100 online gaming accounts Thursday. The sweep afftected such gaming giants as Gaia Online and THQ, and it’s the latest stage of “Operation: Game Over,” aimed at keeping those on sex offender registries from being able to communicate with kids.
Tracking down sex offenders isn’t as hard as it might seem. Thanks to 2008’s controversial Electronic Securing and Targeting of Online Predators Act (e-STOP), any New Yorkers on the sex offender registry must inform law enforcement any time they make a new account online. The state then periodically runs massive sweeps with willing Websites, deleting registered accounts en masse.
In 2009, Schneiderman’s office used e-STOP to delete more than 3,500 Facebook and MySpace accounts. Earlier in 2012, a similar raid shut down an additional 3,500 gaming accounts, including ones belonging to such popular sites as XBox Live and Blizzard, which makes the massively popular online game World of Warcraft.
California’s answer to e-STOP, Proposition 35, stirred up controversy in November when it passed with an overwhelming majority. Internet rights activists, like the Electronic Frontier Foundation and American Civil Liberties Union, argued that forcing anyone to register their activity with government agencies effectively killed their right to anonymous speech, which is protected by the First Amendment. A judge put a hold on Prop 35 to investigate those claims, and still hasn’t ruled.
That wasn’t the concern for a victorious Schneiderman.
“The Internet is the crime scene of the 21st century, and we must ensure that online video game platforms do not become a digital playground for dangerous predators,” he said. “That means doing everything possible to block sex offenders from using gaming systems as a vehicle to prey on underage victims.”
Screengrab via YouTube
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