According to an official investigative report, underage users of the tremendously popular Pokemon Go mobile app can easily fall victims to registered child molesters. Study investigators found instances when the game led players dangerously close to sites where sex offenders live.
The report was released by two senators from New York, Diane Savino and Jeff Klein, on July 29.
Savino explained that it is risky to allow kids in the proximity of sexual predators’ homes while they play a game. But what’s more concerning is that a convicted sex offender can have access to the game’s maps just like children have.
The two senators plan to introduce a new law to prevent any tragedies from happening in their home state.
Pokemon Go which is currently the most downloaded app in the first week from official launch, take gamers outside their homes to look for digital collectibles known as pokemons. The virtual monsters are transposed onto real-world settings via an augmented reality engine.
Players have access to real maps which pinpoint locations known as PokeStops, where they can get rewards as pokemons are more abundant, and Gyms, where they can challenge rival teams.
Nevertheless, there were instances when the app directed users to convicted criminals’ homes.
According to the report, the virtual beasts spawned in the vicinity of high-level sex offenders nearly 60 percent of times. Plus, many PokeStops were within a half-block of registered child molesters’ homes.
In-game items sought by players spawned near convicted sex predators’ homes in 73 percent of cases. Klein said that a kid looking for a Pikachu might stumble upon a high-level pedophile instead.
The senator added that it is absurd to allow sexual predators access to a map where unescorted children congregate. Klein urged lawmakers to amend current laws that prevent convicted criminals from having access to social media.
He also plans to introduce a bill to prevent high-level sexual predators from playing Pokemon Go or other augmented reality games. Klein noted that most of these sex offenders are currently barred from accessing social media platforms through judicial orders.
The two lawmakers also think that the game producer should constantly update the app and insert an algorithm that prevents pokemons from appearing in dangerous locations. For that purpose, game developers can check the Department of Criminal Justice’s sex offender registry.
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