New York Convinces Game Companies To Kick Registered Sex Offenders Off Gaming Services

from the it's-an-election-year dept

Back in 2008, New York passed a law requiring registered sex offenders to register all email addresses and social network accounts with the government. Since then, a number of states have passed similar laws and some social networks, such as Facebook, have resorted to simply banning sex offenders from the sites. While these laws provide those who pass them with political capital in following elections, their effectiveness is pretty minimal if it can even be measured.

Not content with just making the online lives of registered sex offenders more difficult, New York is now poised to make sex offenders online lives less enjoyable. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has announced the first wave of an initiative called “Operation: Game Over”. Under this initiative, over 3500 sex offenders’ online gaming accounts with companies such as Apple, Microsoft and Blizzard have been banned completely. AG Schneiderman applauds the effort with the following:

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.

While protecting children from dangerous predators is a noble goal, one needs to seriously question this initiative.This isn’t just removing access to gaming networks for those that have targeted children in the past, it is also affecting hundreds possibly thousands of people whose crimes had nothing to do with children. To ban them completely from gaming networks seems a bit much. In fact, the New York Civil Liberties Union questions just that:

While the intent here is admirable, schemes like this one do very little to keep children safe and trample on the right to free speech and expression.

And the problem this initiative is trying to solve is almost non-existent. Children are almost always abused by people they know – a friend or family member – not by people they interact with while playing video games online.

If the problem New York is trying to solve is non-existent, then what are they actually accomplishing here? Much like other similar initiatives, those supporting it have no concrete answers. Even Microsoft has no real idea why it is going along with the initiative it; it just is:

At Microsoft, we continually evaluate ways to manage safety for our 40 million Xbox Live members and particularly for children on our service. Our partnership with the Office of the New York Attorney General helps further this cause.

Do you want to know what could really help you protect the 40 million Xbox Live members? An educational program for parents on how to properly manage the online play of their children would do a far more effective job at protecting children than an effort like this. Banning registered sex offenders will do nothing to protect children from predators that have not been caught and prosecuted in the past.

Not only are these people blocked from playing with children through these services, they are also blocked from playing with friends and family members. We are further eroding the ability for these people to reintegrate themselves with society, and for what? While New York and those gaming companies that partnered with the state continue the witch hunt, they will surely earn some brownie points with parents. After all, that is really what matters in an election year. Being able to say, “I did something to protect your children.” That is the important thing. Who cares if justice is actually being served? Sex offenders are expendable. They aren’t real people. At least you can keep telling yourself that if it helps you sleep at night.

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Comments on “New York Convinces Game Companies To Kick Registered Sex Offenders Off Gaming Services”

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Rekrul says:

This isn’t just removing access to gaming networks for those that have targeted children in the past, it is also effecting hundreds possibly thousands of people whose crimes had nothing to do with children.

Especially since you can now get labeled a ‘sex offender’ for something as trivial as taking a leak in the bushes.

Chargone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

to be fair, the entire preposition thing is bullshit anyway, the effect/affect thing isn’t.

(technically, the ‘never end a sentence with a preposition’ thing is both Redundant due to being Impossible (if it is at the end, it is clearly AFTER the thing it goes with, and thus a POSTposition, not a preposition at all) as well as Wrong (english does allow the use of many of it’s adpositions (the collective term for prepositions and postpositions, as well as the (hypothetical?) errr… inpostion? hehe.) as postpositions and, in fact, in many of the situations where it is objected to by people who obsess over rules like this, actually Requires it, hence Churchill’s line. (though, really, that line’s not a great example, due to the Many ways it could be reworded to make it Less awkward that do not end in adpositions.)

Pitabred (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

If they’re so dangerous, why aren’t they in jail? Really… creating a class of humanity that’s not dangerous enough to keep locked away from everyone else, but is so horribly dangerous that they basically can’t be allowed to interact with anyone else… doesn’t that sound stupid to anyone else? Because that’s what we have now.

Lord Binky says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Getting caught taking a drunk piss in the park on your birthday will get you labeled a sex offender. This isn’t for child sex offenders, this includes people who get caught mooning someone, or a couple that found a hidden away place that was still “public” to uh.. express their feelings…ok, sex it up. It’s ridiculous that it’s possible to classify someone that that was really unlucky on laundry day and split their pants the first time in their life they went commando to a child molester.

As for the prison population, I could see almost any other crime being more prison worthy than the dude that pissed in a park. Isn’t it sad that the first drug offenders we think of in prison are pot smokers. I always thought it must be the differences in the effects of the drugs that cops would prefer. On one hand you have guys doing drugs that an upper type drug that worst case is they’re super violent, full of energy, and ready to throw a coffee table at your head with one hand VS a group that are on a downer type drug that worst case they’re lethargic. Yeah… forget locking up those dangerous ones, not only are they hard to arrest, it’s scary and dangerous!

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

And we’ve learned from experience that it’s pretty hard to actually agree on what are the requirements to label some1 a sex offender. As things are now, a toddler kissing another is enough to make the first a sex offender in the US. Seems very reasonable to sentence a toddler to be a sex offender to the rest of his life and deprive him of gaming while at it.

But the US isn’t well known for being sane and reasoned, are they?

Jesse (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Exactly. So long as I know that, in my mind, innocent people can be put on that list it’s hard to take it seriously. Ordinary people, just like you and I, caught up in a moral panic that ruins the rest of their lives.

Underage youth takes pictures of herself and sends to also underage boyfriend? She’s a sex offendor (even though they could just have sex legally).

Underage youth receives pictures of also underage girlfriend? He’s a sex offendor (even though they could just have sex legally).

Draw a picture that could be interpretted as a minor in a sexual manner? Watch porn featuring an adult actor who looks young? Sex offendor.
– That same article also talks of a man who is a sex offendor for grabbing the arm of a 14 year old girl, to lecture her for running in front of his car (an argument the courts accepted as true).

Keep a dream log book of disturbing dreams you have featuring children in bad ways, as part of a means to overcome this problem? Sex offendor.
[I made that one up as an extension to existing cases.]

Someone sends you an explicit photo featuring children? Sex offendor.

Take some pictures of your children in the bath tub? Sex offendor.

Lois M (profile) says:

Re: Re: any measures

If it isn’t already obvious to everyone, the reason we are now getting laws that mess with everyone’s Constitutional rights is that we have been allowing laws that mess with the Constitutional rights of despised groups, such as sex offenders. Now we have laws that allow the rights of OTHERS to be encroached upon, and which have such broad definitions that yes, the sex offender registry can be applied to an 8 year old (happened in Colorado) who is doing nothing more than “playing doctor”.
Further, the sex offender registry has made NO impact on repeat offense rates, and is doing so VERY expensively. In fact, the registry may (according to the latest data) have a NEGATIVE impact, making it MORE likely that sex offenders will re-offend. Do we want that? I don’t think so!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Why is it acceptable to have specific label for crimal actsthat covers such a broad range as urination in public to unspeakable acts to a child? One is acceptable and used for humour in movies, Adam Sandler’s “Big Daddy”, and the other is likely in the top 5 worst crimes thinkable?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

The complete article can be found at:—michigan

This is just one of the many examples of this behavior. Yes it is very real.

The Charter Township of Meridian Code Sec. 50-112 addresses spitting, urinating, and defecating specifically. It states that it shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly or recklessly spit, urinate, or defecate in any public place or on private premises without the consent of the owner or his tenant, agent, or employee, except where an approved sanitary facility is provided. An argument to make in defense of this crime is disability as where the person, due to a disability, violated this law because of necessity. One can argue an undersized bladder or kidney problems for example. An affidavit of a physician assist in proving this defense.

There is a question of whether a person who has been convicted of urinating in public must register on the Michigan Sex Offenders List. According to the Sex Offender Registry Act, the intent of the act was to better assist law enforcement officers and the people of this state in preventing and protecting against the commission of future criminal sexual acts by convicted sex offenders. A person who has been convicted of committing an offense covered by the is considered to pose a potential serious menace and danger to the health, safety, morals, and welfare of the people, and particularly the children, of Michigan. The registration requirements of this act are intended to provide law enforcement and the people of this state with an appropriate, comprehensive, and effective means to monitor those persons who pose such a potential danger.

Jesse (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

This is similar to the arguments against copyright maximalism, in that nobody can respect the law because everyone could be classified as a sex offendor. Innocent people have their lives ruined, rather than just the people we traditionally think of as being pedophiles.

And even for the pedophiles in the traditional sense of the word, is it really wise to absolutely guarantee zero chance of reintegration??

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

> Especially since you can now get labeled a
> ‘sex offender’ for something as trivial as
> taking a leak in the bushes.

It’s worse than that. The state of Georgia fought for and won the right to include people on the sex offender registry whose crimes have nothing whatsoever to do with sex. Crimes like armed robbery and embezzlement. The Georgia Supreme Court said there’s nothing wrong with that whatsoever.

So these people, while not admirable for being embezzlers and whatnot, now have to register on a list that makes everyone in their community assume they are kiddie-diddlers and restricts where they can live and work and now what they can do online. And it’s for life.

DinDaddy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Not really “now”. That has been true for decades.

All the “think of the children” zero tolerance for anyone classified as any sort of sex offender should give anyone pause before agreeing to any plea deals for things like public urination or nudity now though.

In fact, it probably gives lawyers defending minor infractions like that some decent ammunition for raising the bar for such a conviction.

artp (profile) says:

Thanks for speaking out on this

I recently became aware of just who was on the sex offender registry, and have been telling friends about it ever since.

The first post mentioned urinating in public. I hardly think that we need to be protected from drunks who don’t know where the can is.

The largest segment of people entering the sex offender registry is young boys, children, actually, between the ages of 14-16. There is no way to get off the sex offender registry. I checked with an attorney friend here in Iowa, and the law has no provision for removing someone from the registry. Two children involved in sex exploration who are more than 24 months apart in age will get the male put on the sex offender registry. Any sex exploration will get him on the list. Whether you think that child sex play is OK or not, the results are too draconian to tolerate. Children (under 18) almost never match up with the female older than the male. Males don’t mature as fast as females, and it is easy for the gap to be two years. Think back to your high school days and look at the couples you remember. How many of them would have been on the sex offender registry?

When I told one woman about this, she was upset that she could no longer trust the registry to protect her children by checking who the REAL problem people were that she needed to worry about. They are now hidden in a thicket of miscellaneous offenders, most of whom are not dangerous to children, as Zachary pointed out in his article.

This whole mess is indicative of the lack of oversight on legislatures, who make meaningless laws that are not integrated into the existing body of law. No wonder judges’ decisions make no sense when the corpus of law is such a Gordian knot. Discussions over the years have suggested sunset laws, or requiring legislators to fund enforcement of the laws they pass, or other schemes to bring this mess into some sort of order. But nothing ever gets done.

Anyway, it is time to stop criminalizing our children, besides all the criminalizing that the **AA’s would have the government do to the rest of the population.


TtfnJohn (profile) says:

Re: Re: Thanks for speaking out on this

Oh well,

You can’t have little children playing doctor, now can you? Or expressing and playing out their natural curiosity about male and female bodies. (Note that I didn’t say acting out.)

We’ve long since past the point of paranoia about the safety of our children where, as a society, we want to raise them in a bubble of alleged safety.

Drive them to school, to sports activities, keep them organized, do everything but let them be children and let them play with each other. And, no, not only doctor but unorganized, adult absent play that allows children to learn from play about the journey of life they’re on.

Strangely enough, as adults, we drive them off to schools, organized sports, church and other activities where the tiny proportion of adult pedophiles will be present because of the access to children. (Real pedophiles are something like 0.1% or less of the adult population.) And then we’re outraged when something happens.

OK, so ban these people from playing online games through XBox and other devices, even though the majority of sex offenders aren’t guilty of hunting children. As has been pointed out a large number of people on the sex offender registries are innocent in the sense that both parties consented even if both parties are under age.

Over reach anyone?

Mike C. (profile) says:

Re: Thanks for speaking out on this

So much THIS.

I checked the registry for a 5 mile area around my home. There were 20 or so “offenders” found. Of those, all but 1 were offenses similar to urinating in public or having a girlfriend while both kids were in high school. The one person on the list for a serious offense had been tried, convicted, served his time and moved hundreds of miles from where the incident took place. Additionally, it was an incident with a family member, not a stranger (looked up court records to verify).

I guess my approach of teaching my kids how to protect themselves and what is/isn’t appropriate was right all along… lol

PRMan (profile) says:

Re: Re: Thanks for speaking out on this

Seriously, we had a member (not minister) of our church that was beginning to be WAY TOO friendly to children. Someone reported that he was on the list, so as the computer-knowledgeable guy, it was my job to verify it.

I seriously had a hard time finding the guy on the map, because I had to wade through 100s of public urination and teen sex “criminals”. I finally found him, but I only found 3 “actual” sex offenders on the list out of about 200.

Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile) says:

Re: Thanks for speaking out on this

Wasn’t there a recent story of a kid who kicked his bully in the nutz in self defense and proceeded to be registered as a sex offender?

Okay, he was accused of sexual harassment. Don’t know if that could also lead to sex offense, and get registered? An overzealous DA would probably try to get that tacked on.

E. Zachary Knight (profile) says:

Re: Re: Double punishment?

The 5th amendment doesn’t really apply here as people on the Sex Offenders registry are not being charged for a crime they have already been found innocent of. What this can be reasonably be a violation of is the 8th amendment which protects us from cruel and unusual punishment.

Sex offender registries are little more than a public branding of a person in an attempt to ostracize the person or to provide an outlet for legal persecution of a class of people. It has no reason to exist in a “civilized” society. Sadly, the US is moving further and further away from being a civilized society everyday.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Double punishment?

> The 5th amendment doesn’t really apply here
> as people on the Sex Offenders registry are
> not being charged for a crime they have already
> been found innocent of

Double jeopardy doesn’t just apply to acquittals. It prevents any re-prosecution for an offense which has already been adjudicated once.

So basically, not only does it prevent the DA from trying you again after a jury says “not guilty”, it prevents the DA from deciding to try you again for a separate charge arising from the same set of facts.

Yakko Warner (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Double punishment?

So basically, not only does it prevent the DA from trying you again after a jury says “not guilty”, it prevents the DA from deciding to try you again for a separate charge arising from the same set of facts.

Wait, how did OJ Simpson get found guilty of “wrongful death” after being acquitted of murder?

Machin Shin (profile) says:

Re: Double punishment?

Well my question is this. Isn’t there something in US law about cruel and unusual punishment? The way the laws are for sex offenders I think I would rather get life in prison than be put on that registry.

Once on this registry you are told where you can and can’t live, your job prospects are now next to zero, and your constantly having to deal with law enforcement to keep records up to date. Then on top of that your posted up on a page as a sex offender and the social stigma is that every one on there is a pedophile. Does not matter if you are or not, if your name is on the list people will assume you are.

So basically they destroy any and all hope of these people having a real life and toss them onto the street. It is well beyond what I think qualifies as fair punishment for their crimes. It is time for lawmakers to fix this mess. This “one size fits all” solution for sex offenders is not fair and is counter productive. Yes, we need to take a hard stance against child molesters but destroying someones life for taking a piss in a bush is not saving children.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Double punishment?

Good point. Maybe this could be a point of contention for challenging it and getting it declared unconstitutional. However given the way the right-wing media cultivates and panders to the religious zealots anyone who brings such a case is likely to be crucified by a pointed media campaign.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Double punishment?

“However given the way the right-wing media cultivates and panders to the religious zealots anyone who brings such a case is likely to be crucified by a pointed media campaign.”

And this is why I find my country so god damned entertaining. Let’s take a look at the fun steps here:

1. Congress at varying levels create catch-all legislation that over-punishes a sizeable percentage of “offenders”, half the time for things that wouldn’t be illegal in most of the rest of the modern world (go look at age of consent laws in Europe, it’s hysterical).

2. Someone somewhere complains that the process sucks.

3. Seeing a chance to score a headline, politician panders to religious zealots who don’t read past said headline and actually choose to ramp UP punishment. Religious zealots everywhere rejoice.

4. Religious zealots fail to realize that thanks to the shell game religious institutions play with their clergy, some of the folks they take their moral cues from either are or SHOULD BE on that same damned list they’re getting all hot and bothered about.

5. Rinse and repeat.

I take no sides in politics on this blog, but I’ll be damned if the religious seem to be the most willfully blind folks on the planet….

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Double punishment?

Right, and as I have said before, the right wing doesn’t really care about the issues that the religious zealots care about. They really couldn’t care less about things like Abortion, Gay Marriage (well may be this one but only if it means that gay couples qualify for more benefits that cost them money), etc. These are DISTRACTIONS for them to get the zealots to focus on something else other than their real agenda. The right-wing really cares about the issues that things like the Occupy Movement bring to light. But if they can get the “Moral Majority” to support them by playing “look at the monkey” with rhetoric that plays on their religious convictions, they use them to maintain the status quo and keep them in power.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Double punishment?

What I find curious about the folks you call “religious zealots” is that they don’t realize that a church, mosque, temple or synagogue is a place that pedophiles would be attracted to. As are schools. As is organized sports. There are lots of children around, you see, and they get to operate, or at least hope to operate, below the radar there.

As for catch all laws, sex offender registries and all the rest I’m not at all sure that children are any better protected. Particularly given all of the above.

And given that the vast majority of child sexual abuse occurs in family, and a lower amount through trusted adults in places like the above and then, finally, pedophiles acting alone.

I’ve done a lot of research on this subject in my recovery from sexual abuse that I suffered at the hands of my father. And in family, by a parent, is where most abuse happens. Period, full stop.

I disagree that most “religious zealots” rejoice with each upping of the penalties or that most are willfully blind, even though their leadership certainly is. The upper echelons of the Roman Catholic Church certainly is as well, though I’d argue that most Catholic’s aren’t. In the case of the RC’s what’s happening is denial which is common enough in situations like this. Though, in my opinion, it’s long past time the RC’s upper echelons just accepted the fact that this has and will happen. Which doesn’t mean they stop guarding against it.

I’m writing this, also, as a devout Anglican so being in a religious community doesn’t equal zealotry.

In fact, Jesus warned against and had no use for the zealotry of his time. And we shouldn’t have a use for it in our time. From politicians or anyone else.

Anonymous Coward says:

While we’re at it we also need to ban sex offenders from doing the following.
-Eating at restaurants (kids eat there you know!)
-Driving (or riding along) on public or private roads (kids use those roads!)
-Shopping at a grocery store (parents often bring young kids with them to grocery stores!)
-Reading books (books may contain descriptions of child pornography! Who knows, we don’t have the manpower to read through them all and make a specific list of banned/allowed books!)
-Working anywhere (Take your kid to work day comes once a year after all! And then company picnics to!)
-Breathing air (kids breathe that air to! You wouldn’t want your kid sharing a milkshake with a sexual predator, so why would you let them share the oxygen in the air with a sexual predator!)

Oh and the last thing we need to outlaw.
-Being in jail (kids come on in on Sundays to visit people in jail! If the sex offender is still in jail serving their sentence on a Sunday we need to charge them with endangering those kids coming to visit!)

There, now our kids are PERFECTLY safe no matter what they do.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Yeah, that was hilarious, especially the hypocritical reactions from the usual idiots. Choice excerpts from the Wiki:

“Beverley Hughes described the show as “unspeakably sick” but later admitted she had not seen it, and David Blunkett said he was “dismayed” by it. It later emerged that he also had not seen the episode.”

Erm, to be fair Blunkett couldn’t have “seen” it since he’s blind, but still…

“There was also a tabloid campaign against Morris, who refused to discuss the issue. The Daily Star decried Morris and the show, placing the story next to a separate article about the 15-year-old singer Charlotte Church’s breasts under the headline “She’s a big girl now” and using the words “looking chest swell”. The Daily Mail pictured Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, who were 13 and 11, in their bikinis next to a headline describing Brass Eye as “Unspeakably Sick”.”

Par for the course, and morons seem to lap it up every time…

“Defenders of the show argued that media reaction to the show reinforced its satire of the media’s hysteria and hypocrisy on the subject of paedophilia.”


kenichi tanaka says:

While I applaud New York for passing this law, this has very obvious constitutional issues. While our country, state and Federal, has the right to pass laws to protect the public, these companies that are banning these sex offenders from their network could be liable for constitutional violations.

It’s like ISPs banning sex offenders from subscribing to their internet services or cell phone companies banning sex offenders from acquiring cell phone services through their network.

I think we’re going to see lawsuits aimed at Apple, Microsoft, Blizzard and so on.

Nathan F (profile) says:

Re: Re:

If those all were not privately owned networks, I would agree. We very likely will see a challenge to it from the ACLU and others aligned with them, but I don’t see the suits getting very far. MS, Apple, and Blizzard can all set the terms for you to use their property, if you don’t like it go find a game somewhere else.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

> While our country, state and Federal, has the
> right to pass laws to protect the public, these
> companies that are banning these sex offenders
> from their network could be liable for constitutional
> violations.

Actually, you have it precisely backward. Only the government would be liable for constitutional violations, as the Constitution only restricts government action. Other than the 13th Amendment, the Constitution has no application to private individuals or businesses.

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Everyone knows that if you have an unstable person with serious psychological issues, the best solution is to completely ostracize them from society and leave them to their own devices with no support structure. Then there’s no way they’ll ever do anything wrong again — people who feel worthless and hated with nothing left to lose don’t commit crimes. Duh.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

And this is actually the mentality that haunts those with psychological issues. Mental health treatment and recovery services in my state of Ohio have had a huge cut ($90 million since 2008) in funding. If you are only on Medicare, not qualifying for Medicaid or other help, you get to see a psychiatrist once every 3 months.

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I watched PBS Frontline documentary about the prison system in Ohio, which has been forced to build a huge mental hospital completely out of their own pockets with no additional budget, because they are effectively the new caretakers for the mentally ill.

It was excellent… though, quite depressing and distressing:

David (profile) says:

You know why they passed this law

You know why they passed this law, rather than the educational program Zachary mentioned…

1. It would require thinking the issue through, but the politicians involved just want the headline.
2. It would cost the government money, this program pushes the costs off onto the game networks.

It is sad that this is what we come to expect from our political “leaders”.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Free Time

We keep kicking you and treating you like crap, why won’t you behave better?!

I wonder if anyone has ever looked to see how many of them commit another offense not because they had the desire but just to get thrown back in jail because its the only place we allow them to fit in. We’ve seen stories of some people who get paroled and then do something stupid and end up back in jail, because they can’t fit into society anymore and its easier to be in prison than to find work, a home, a job.

E. Zachary Knight (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Free Time

This is the biggest problem with our criminal “justice” system. We have perfected punishment for crimes, but we are nowhere near having a decent program for rehabilitating criminals.

Rehabilitation should be the goal of any justice system. We should want people to become good contributing members of society. The fact that we have no system set up for that goal is saddening.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Free Time

Well people want to go back to the whole Scarlett Letter thing, where even if your debt to society is paid everyone still needs to know now and forever your bad.
There is also the assumption that all of the money being sent to prisons is enough to offer these programs and they just won’t use them. Its like the problem with the homeless, people assume just because they heard about a program once it is just these people not caring about themselves and using the program is why they are still homeless.
Lets ignore we cut away almost all mental health care, and many of the homeless have issues that need that sort of care. Lets ignore that many of them are former veterans, who fought for us to enjoy Beiber how, where, and when we wanted, that we didn’t ever think about creating a support system for. We assume that people can go from war back to real life, like turning off Halo.

silverscarcat says:

This just doesn't work...

I gotta wonder what the hell lawmakers are thinking…

Sure, you can make zones where sex offenders aren’t allowed… Or ban them from doing stuff, fine…

Then what?

They start living in the woods, under bridges, etc, with no stable address…

The only thing that the lawmakers are doing is A: making it harder for law enforcement officials to keep track of any sort of sex offender and B: making it far less safe for children to live.

Which would you prefer? A sex offender who lives near you, but has an address and works all the time…

Or a sex offender who’s homeless, has no job and nothing but free time?

I’ve got nothing against tough laws against serial rapists or child molesters, but seriously, people who urinate in public, moon others, statutory rape when they’re underage (don’t ask, it’s stupid, kids having sex with kids and both are guilty of breaking the law), sexting… Yeah…

Stupid laws are stupid.

Anonymous Coward says:

“Children are almost always abused by people they know ? a friend or family member ? not by people they interact with while playing video games online.”

Another wonderful Techdirt contradiction. If you can justify a pirate site because it’s occasionally used for non-infringing purposes, can’t you apply the same standard here, where it really counts? If SOME children are harmed by people they meet online (and it does happen) is this not a good idea in the end?

Or are you suggesting that, because a majority of children are abused by people they know, that we shouldn’t deal with the small amount that happens otherwise?

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Or maybe demand that parents prepare their children to exist in the real world where these things happen.

Or maybe demand that the Sex Offender Registry actually be used as it was intended, and not as a catch all for DA’s to plump up their win record by sending a 16 yr old to jail for kissing his 15 yr old girlfriend, and getting him on the list for life.

Someone playing WoW in NY isn’t exactly in a position to molest someone in real life who lives in CA.

Harming the thousands of people who aren’t active pedophiles/child molesters in the classical sense with a law banning them from social interaction is overreaching and helps no one.

Another wonderful troll contradiction, the hell with the collateral damage it “fixes” the problem.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“If you can justify a pirate site because it’s occasionally used for non-infringing purposes, can’t you apply the same standard here, where it really counts? If SOME children are harmed by people they meet online (and it does happen) is this not a good idea in the end?”

Logic fails you yet again, I see. Let’s take this slowly for the hard of thinking:

In scenario 1, people are aware that some abuse takes place using a particular privilege (internet/P2P/file lockers/what have you). However, the level of abuse and ACTUAL resulting damage (rather than fearmongering) does not justify draconian measures being taken. They can lead to dangerous unintended consequences and will almost certainly not reduce the problem being tackled – especially when compared to alternative solutions available (treating customers fairly, making product available without restrictions, servicing demand, etc).

In scenario 2, people are aware that some abuse takes place using a particular privilege (using gaming services). However, the level of abuse and ACTUAL resulting damage (rather than fearmongering) does not justify draconian measures being taken. They can lead to dangerous unintended consequences and will almost certainly not reduce the problem being tackled – especially when compared to alternative solutions available (education, monitoring, etc).

How in the hell is this a contradiction in your mind? It’s exactly the same standard, albeit that the second scenario is based on something that at least has some kind of evidence to prove real damage being caused (even if I’d say the link between that and gaming is tenuous at best).

“Or are you suggesting that, because a majority of children are abused by people they know, that we shouldn’t deal with the small amount that happens otherwise?”

No, they’re saying that the measures taken should be proportional, fair and effective. This is not true of these measures, nor are they true of SOPA and the other bullshit you push, so they are not supported.

Cowardly Anonymous says:

Re: Re:

The idea that underlies the concept of innocent until proven guilty is that it is better to allow some criminals to go free in order to ensure we do not convict an innocent. This concept is very much held as a fundamental pillar of a free nation. Take a moment and think about what this idea means and whether our government is actually upholding it when they expand laws into victimless territory.

Rekrul says:

Re: Re: Re:

The idea that underlies the concept of innocent until proven guilty is that it is better to allow some criminals to go free in order to ensure we do not convict an innocent.

Doesn’t apply in sex cases. Oh sure, technically it might still be the law, but in actual practice it’s ‘guilty until we decide otherwise’.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Troll bait!

Of course we should deal with the small amount that happens otherwise. THAT is not the problem.

The problem is that all people on New York’s sex offender registry were convicted of sexual crimes against children. Some were children themselves when they landed on it because a boy and girl in junior high kissed in the hallways or some such silliness or, even younger, were found playing “doctor”.

The problem is the drag net approach of sex offender registries not a desire to protect children. Done for political gain is a problem. And still on line are those convicted of non-sexual criminal offenses against children such as beating and on and on I could go.

If you want to look fearfully at the Internet then this doesn’t make it a less dangerous place. Of course, if the Internet is a dangerous place, to you, then Real Life must be a horror show to you as well.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

You need to think though – if a small amount of legit uses of piracy infrastructure makes it “acceptable”, then shouldn’t the large amount of legit uses of online gaming networks make the small amount of predatory uses of online systems some how enough to block it all off?

Places where kids play are the perfect home for a pedophile. It’s like a candy store to them. Why let them do their shopping there?

It seems pretty simple, no?

E. Zachary Knight (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

What? You are seriously not making sense.

In the case of piracy and this move against people on the sex offender registry, if it harms someone that is not guilty of a crime, it should not be used.

If someone using torrents to distribute their legal content is blocked from doing so, the anti-piracy measures on torrents is too much.

If someone who is on the sex offender registry for a “crime” that had nothing to do with children is blocked from playing on a gaming network, the blocking measure is too much.

No contradictions here.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

The point is if a small benefit from piracy is determined, then it’s all right to accept all the crime.

Sex offenders are a small part of the online gaming universe. Doesn’t banning them, without banning the great population a good thing?

If a small number if enough to justify one, isn’t enough to justify another?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

The relative sizes have nothing to do with write or wrong. They only address effectiveness.

Banning people on the sex offenders list from game networks will do very little to keep predators from accessing children while having a huge amount of collateral damage.

The collateral damage makes it wrong. The size just points out that it doesn’t do what it claims to do.

E. Zachary Knight (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Perhaps it would help your argument if you could type in coherent sentences.

I am really struggling to parse your thoughts.

With piracy, there are measurable net gains for content producers who are more open and accepting of sharing of their work.

With banning a class of people from a social or gaming network, there is no measurable gain for those networks or those that use them. The threat that a kid would be targeted by a predator still exists no matter how many registered sex offenders you ban. The fact remains that there are predators that are not on the registry that are still using those services.

Fighting piracy and persecuting registered sex offenders to nothing but stroke the egos of those who perform the actions. Neither action provides a positive benefit to society.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Are you really this stupid? Or do you somehow believe your sophomoric attempts at a debate make any kind of sense to a rational person.

The reason the authors position is not contradictory is that the author is looking at it from the point of view of how much collateral damage is done to those who are either no threat or a very low threat to the general public. Why should they be harmed just because it is might be possible to use the network to harm someone. The law will do very little, likely nothing, to actually prevent sexual crimes and instead significantly infringes on the rights of the individuals and makes it even harder for them to reintegrate into society.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: You're discpicable, know that?

“if a small amount of legit uses of piracy infrastructure makes it “acceptable”, then shouldn’t the large amount of legit uses of online gaming networks make the small amount of predatory uses of online systems some how enough to block it all off?”

IF we were talking about a sex offender registry that was limited to offenses against children by adults (say over 18 on under 18 just to draw a theoretical line in the sand) but we’re talking all those on the registry whether or not they can be classed as pedophiles.

The scope is too broad (drag net approach as I said) and the probability of “escapement” (to use a fishing term) is too great the way it’s being done now.

And yes, places where there are children playing on or off line MAY attract a pedophile, though the candy store is more like becoming a coach in organized sports, teacher or janitor at an elementary or junior high or, hell, even a well known university. (Penn State, say.) Or a Sunday School teacher or lay preacher or youth pastor at a church, or just about any other activity you can think of where there are children present and the pedophile can move from stranger to trusted adult in a relative hurry. On line is somewhat more difficult because it often brings with it a log record, say, to restart the game.

As others have noted there’s a parental responsibility here. The computer or game box is NOT a cheap baby sitter. Children need to talk to their parents about what’s happened in their games that makes them uncomfortable and parents either have to ask or give them express permission to talk to them about it no matter what the creep on the other end of the game box says. Children are almost always creeped out by the pedo at the other end, at first, and the constant demands to “keep it our little secret”. And parents need to listen and understand that their son or daughter isn’t making this up. (Not all pedos prey on girls only, you know.)

Indeed, why let them do their shopping there? In real life or on the Internet? Don’t. At the same time don’t penalize those who have no inclination or record of being sexually attracted to and willing to draw the child into their reality/fantasy world. Target it a bit better.

As it is, I’d wager that not a single child is being protected from on line predation by a pedophile or that the instances will drop all that much if at all.

As for the offenders themselves, what is being accomplished if they aren’t pedophiles, by blocking them off? Not much, I’d wager, other than to continue to marginalize and punish them as our post modern version of the lepers of old.

As for your attempt to link this issue with real and imagined copyright infringement is nothing short of despicable. The two are not analogous.

Nothing real is lost in copyright infringement whereas lives are destroyed when a child is sexually, physically and/or emotionally abused. You have no idea, none at all of the special kind of hell we go through in life, as long as it lasts for most of us. Children blame themselves for the abuse, you know, and carry that blame and shame with them as they grow into adulthood. I certainly did. I’d go on at length about what it did to my life but you’re more interested in using these children as pawns in your silly games than have any real concern for them/us. As children or adults.

One day you may learn to deal with us as real people not abstractions you can use for your despicable analogies. One day politicians may do that too. But I’m not holding my breath for that to happen.

All that said, I pray that you never know the pain and torture a child important to you goes through as you watch him or her grow up, self destructive and none of the promise you once saw gone. Even at then you’ll know less than a hundredth of what he or she is going through.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 You're discpicable, know that?

She’s gone quite bonkers, hasn’t she?

Given the redesign of her web site and the, now. total lack of posts what journalism was there has vanished. As I said then, not good journalism, not well researched or written but broadly speaking journalism.

Remember that I also said that her attempts at extortion, even then, blew her case out of the water and then some with respect to the protection of the shield law in Oregon.

Thanks for bringing this to my attention. What Cox has done there is also despicable. Abusing a child is, IMHO, far from acceptable under any circumstances, sexually or otherwise and that’s what Cox has done here. Thank you very much to alerting me to this.

anony-mouse (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 You're discpicable, know that?

Your welcome John,

and yes bonkers is one word for it, our concern is their could be future victims of her style of link/google bombing and then “reputation management”.

Putting the foundation together for case now, though she seems to have attracted like minded conspiracy nutters (Monica Foster – in porn world) now.

It’s just a matter of educating people about what she is doing, and that others could (probably are) doing similar things. EFF & Eugene Volokh (yep) are appealing the case. And in some ways I agree it was bad law though the new opinion judge gave cleared up a lot of concerns, though even the EFF acknowledge that even if they win the appeal it is NOT about Ms Cox but about the ‘what is a journalist’ concern and that Ms Cox will most likely lose anyway if it gets sent back to the lower court.

She didn’t abuse the three-year old persay, though the intimidatory and implied threat was there. As you know the bar for threats is pretty high. It’s not about just Ms Randazza (or her father) or even Obsidian anymore it’s about how someone like her could affect this still fragile entity we call the Internet and its social framework for years to come. She needs to be either helped, or made to be helped by either appropriate LEO authorities or Mental Health specialists.
(email us at the website if you like)

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Another wonderful AC completely missing the point. Like with the articles about copyright, what you think is being said is not what is actually being said.

If SOME children are harmed by people they meet online (and it does happen) is this not a good idea in the end?

That does not logically follow. Some children are likely being harmed, but that does not automatically mean that this idea is a good response.

This response will do exactly nothing toward keeping sex offenders off gaming systems. Nothing. Everybody knows they can, and how to, obtain as many free email addresses as they want.

The suggestion being made in this article is not that nothing should be done, but that if something is to be done, it should be something that might actually have a beneficial effect.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

This story was part of what drove this new round of ZOMG SAVE THE CHILDREN!

Parents to busy to actually interact with their child left him in the care of the Xbox. He met someone playing and was chatting with him on Xbox Live. They figured out they were close to each other, and then boy went to the creeps house.

So you have a 12 yr old lacking the basic instructions of don’t talk to strangers online, don’t tell them where you live, and for f*cks sake don’t go over to their house multiple times. Parents to busy to inquire where there child was going, who this person was, where this person lived or anything else… the ENTIRE 3 months the boy went to his home.

Huh… younger than 13, isn’t that a violation of the law to let them have an online account?

But by all means assume that the circumstances of this case will fit the criteria of every case. Everyone knows its only male strangers that abuse children, never family, friends, clergy, coaches, etc.

Now this obviously was a predator who was on Xbox Live who happened across a victim. But we also have parents who are/were completely unaware of their child’s activities. There isn’t a law to fix stupid.

People who prey on children deserve a special place in hell.
People who mooned someone once should be no where NEAR that list of predators, but they are on there.
Assuming that a bad act by 1 person is how they all must operate because they are all on the same list is stupid. (If you doubt, examine the entire TSA system.)

The sex offender list was just the hot new button to push to excite the voters, and a vast number of the people on the list wouldn’t be there if the voters understood what ACTUALLY happened in many of the cases. Instead you list some statute and we just assume they are all evil child eating monsters.

New York is the nanny state run amok, how soon until the voters in New York finally reach the point where they have had enough of this “feels good but does nothing” law making? But then this is a city where if you don’t have a child with you, your not allowed to sit in some public parks.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Indeed… parents are usually the real problem in these situations. The hand-wringers always unite, however, to find ways to solve the problem of stupid parents – but I think Darwin already found a solution to this. But whatever, if parents want to use a game console as a substitute for actual parenting, that’s their business. To turn around and blame society for their (and their kids’) problems as a result is terrible.

As a dad with several daughters, who all play video games (occasionally online), I’m not terribly worried.

My kids know what a suspicious person is, they know how bad people can be. They know they’re not allowed to leave the house without telling us where they’re going. They know they’re not allowed to let anyone in without our knowledge.

Where I live, there are registered sex offenders within a mile of my house – my kids know this, we tell them. They also hear about these dreadful stories so that they can understand just how terrible people can be in the real world. That’s life – there are always going to be terrible people, you just need to know how to deal with them.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Your an amazing dad, and I wish more parents followed your example.
You don’t have to terrify your children with every gory detail of the crimes, but you can give them the information they need at the detail required for the age they are.

That strangers don’t always show up in a trenchcoat and a white van with Free Candy painted on the side.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Furthermore, as necessity is the mother of invention, attempting to pass laws to compensate for lack of parenting is only encouraging parents to be worse parents. In the same way allowing parents to get away with blaming the media for all of the ills in society that are really caused by their lack of parenting is only encouraging them to continue to shirk their parenting duties. The only stop this sort of nonsense is to give parents NO OTHER CHOICE THAN TO RAISE THEIR OWN KIDS.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

We are a society that abdicates personal responsibility on a regular basis. Its not my fault I was drunk driving it was the bars fault. Its not my fault My kid if fat, they used happy meals to lure them in. Its not my fault my kid played a game where he got points for beating up hookers, its the stores fault.

Not everyone does this, but enough people do and society gets to wrapped up in the “wrongdoing” by the outside force and gives the parent/person all of the breaks because they couldn’t be responsible for their own actions.

Cowardly Anonymous says:

Re: Re:

“But then this is a city where if you don’t have a child with you, your not allowed to sit in some public parks.”

New York is not a city-state. New York City isn’t even the capital. It really disparages on your credibility when you say something so inane (which is annoying, because the rest of your post is actually well thought out).

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

New York the state, is the nanny state.
New York City is the nanny city.
Albany is the capitol of New York, but doesn’t get near enough national press.

In New York City you can be ticketed for sitting in some public parks without a child.

How much credibility can I have? Have you seen my avatar? 😀
I accidentally some words in a sentence… forgive me.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Response to: That Anonymous Coward on Apr 12th, 2012 @ 7:21am

Sorry it’s Asperger’s Syndrome, not autism.

In a rare circumstance, Kretovic also waived patient privacy rights and allowed a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been counseling him for the last four months to speak publicly on his behalf.

“I certainly would never want a true predator to go free, I would want a true predator to be caught but that’s not Ricky and that’s what’s disturbing to me,” Kitty Moran Wolfsong said of Kretovic. “Socially I would say that Ricky is somewhere between the age of ten and twelve.”

This is the state’s idea of a “creep” and a “predator.”

kenichi tanaka says:

Nathan is wrong. He made the argument that these companies operate private networks. Technically? That may be true but they are a business and all businesses have certain rules they must abide by. This is why businesses have to provide access for the handicapped, for the blind and what not.

Microsoft, Apple, Blizzard … whether you want to believe it or not, is basically violating the constitutional rights of sex offenders. It’s no better than “banning everyone who has red hair” or banning all women from their service.

Now, if a sex offender is on their network and they’re propositioning children on their network, then they can remove them from their network but arbitrarily banning all registered sex offenders? They really are creating a huge liability for their respective countries.

This is really a violation of someone’s constitutional rights because these companies don’t have standing to ban someone from their network before they’ve even signed up.

Yakko Warner (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Sorry, no. They are free to allow or ban anyone for any reason, constitutional or not. They are not a government entity, they are private companies running their own networks.

Don’t believe me? Try signing on to Xbox Live, put some racial or sexual slurs in your profile, and whine about your constitutional rights when you get banned.

Nobody says:

What the hell?

OK, let’s see if I have this straight:

This law makes it illegal for people, that may or may not be sexual predators, to play games on-line in order to protect the children…

Which means they will likely be spending less time sitting in front of their TV, on their couch, in their home/apartment/whatever…

You know, a location where we can be reasonably certain that they would not have any actual (physical) contact with kids…

Yeah, that makes perfect sense.

Nick Burns (profile) says:

I don’t have a problem with this law, per se, I have a problem with what the law constitutes as a “sexual offender”. If a man as a pendence to expose himself to little old ladies, even though it has nothing to do with children, I may still not want him around children. However, if an 18-year-old had an indiscretion with a 16-year-old and is now labeled a “sexual deviant”, that’s different. He really shouldn’t be on the list. But that’s the way the laws are nowadays. If that list was only truly perverted sexual offenders, I can see where this law could make sense.

Almost Anonymous (profile) says:

New York has the issue backwards

They need to ban children from online gaming! Seriously, have you ever played on Xbox Live? Those kids, with their creepy fast reflexes… as soon as I spawn, I see “Killed by Vold3mort13”, and then the little bastich comes over and teabags me! There’s your sexual assault, maybe I should file charges next time…

Rekrul says:

I have an idea; For any new movie that comes out, containing a scene of public urination, public nudity, mooning, etc, we start a publicity campaign warning people that the film contains graphic scenes of sex crimes. Two teenagers having sex? “Movie contains scenes of statutory rape!” One character slaps another character on the butt for comedic offect, or someone kicks someone else in the nuts during a fight? “This movie contains explicit scenes of sexual assault!”

Under current laws, none of the above is a lie. Why should movies get away with depicting conduct that would get real people on the sex offender registry? Let’s start labeling movies according to reality and show the politicians and the public how ridiculous the laws have become.

Even if they don’t care, I’m sure Hollywood would…

Lawrence D'Oliveiro says:

Ghettoization Of Potential Recidivists

Leaving aside all issues of where you stand on ?human rights? versus ?soft on crime?, there is one point that is very hard to ignore: driving sex offenders away from all ?respectable? neighbourhoods (whether physical or virtual) forces them to congregate in places where there are so many of them, the cops simply cannot watch them all.

This seems to be what happened in the Jaycee Lee Dugard case, for example: a known repeat sex offender, already on the local registry and known to the police, was able to get away with continued reoffending for 18 years.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Ghettoization Of Potential Recidivists

There are so many of them they have to check as quickly as possible because people want them watched, but don’t want to pay for it.

Of course there are many of them they have to check on, who a reasonable person would wonder why the hell they were a registered offender in the first place.

whatajoke says:

I live with a die hard xbox live gamer, its just that online. These gamer play in their own livingrooms or bedrooms they don’t go out meeting each other. I also have 2 kids of my own and 8 stepkids whom also all online play none of them have ever been propositioned by a man or women and a real ir decent parent should be paying attention to what there kids are doing online. The real issue is yes there is sum in the world that will hurt our babies at any age if given the chance. As parents it is our job to protect them if you think your child is endanger from somebody on the other side of the world playing a videogame then your failing at our jobs as parents.
At the rate of this ridiculisnes we will see a news headline that read to keep our kids safe the goverment is going to raise them in an undisclosed location and they will be returned upon their 18th birthdays. The added bonus will be it will be a 50% tax increase and on a military lifestyle.

walter says:

the sex offender article

The only thing the stricter laws are doing is isolating the sex offenders to the point that sooner or later they will retaliate against the system, because they have nothing to loose since they have no where to live, work, find a mate. In general, they are being push back to jail. Society wants them to fail. Society wants them to be prisoned for life. But there is a problem. One, money to pay for it. And two, that is against there “human rights”. Considering the fact that most offenders will never recommit a sexual crime again, and the ones that do, do on the registry list any ways. A lot of these laws are touching on the constitution.

Bergman (profile) says:


There were two cases I read about that highlight the problem nicely.

First, there was a 14 year old girl that was violently raped at knife-point by a 13 year old boy. Because a 14 year old could conditionally give consent to sex in that state but a 13 year old never could, and sex had undoubtedly occurred whether consensual or not, the prosecutor charged the rape victim with statutory rape and gave the rapist immunity from the assault with a deadly weapon charge in exchange for testimony against his victim. Since the girl was under 18, she would have ‘only’ had to register as a sex offender for ten years if convicted. Thankfully a judge tossed the charges as soon as he heard them.

In another case, a man owned a house with a nice master bedroom on the ground floor, and an equally nice master bathroom. The back yard had very nice, thick privacy fences and hedges. So his habit of walking naked from his bathroom to his bedroom after showering should have been a wholly private matter. Except that one night, a woman and her pre-teen son were trespassing in the man’s backyard, and he had no idea they were there due to being in a brightly lit room and them in a dark backyard, and they got an eye-full. The prosecutor charged him with exposing his genitals to a child in public. The fact that the woman and her son were both peeping toms who could not have seen those genitals without peeping into people’s bedroom windows at night didn’t seem to matter. Thankfully, again, the judge threw out the charges before the man could wind up on a sex offender registry for life for being the victim of a sex crime.

That’s how silly the sex offender registry has become.

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