US & Canada

Pokemon Go ban for New York sex offenders

Bryant Park in New York as represented on Pokemon Go, July 2016 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption New York's governor has written to the game's developers asking for help protecting children

Authorities in New York state are to ban registered sex offenders from playing the popular mobile phone game Pokemon Go while they are on parole.

The measure will bar nearly 3,000 people now and others in future.

It is aimed at safeguarding the children who play Pokemon Go, walking through the real world looking for virtual characters.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said new technologies must not be "new avenues for dangerous predators".

He said: "Protecting New York's children is priority number one."

Under the proposal, all sex offenders leaving state prison will be banned from playing the game.

New York state law already requires them to submit home addresses and online account names as well as going on a publicly accessible online register of offenders.

Unwelcome appearances

Mr Cuomo has sent a letter to the game's developer, Niantic, asking for help with how to stop people with convictions for sexual offences from playing Pokemon Go.

He has reportedly suggested that the company cross-reference people playing the game with the state's sex offenders register.

Another politician, Senator Jeff Klein, has proposed requiring Niantic to make sure Pokemon creatures and other collectable in-game items do not pop up within 100ft (30m) of sex offenders' homes.

In the game, players use augmented reality on their mobile phones to look for Pokemon creatures near them.

When individual creatures appear they can be "caught" for a limited period of time.

Since the game's launch the creatures have appeared in several places where they were unwelcome, including the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. A spokesman for the museum called for people to show respect by not playing.

The company's marketing director JC Smith has claimed future versions of the game will be respectful of real-world locations.

Niantic's website states that users of Pokemon Go must be 13 years old or older, and "not barred from using the services under applicable law".