Working with Microsoft, Sony, Apple, and others New York State banned 3,580 online gaming accounts belonging to registered sex offenders. The New York Attorney General's office obtained the information of the users screen names and email addresses, as is required by law for sex offenders, and issued the sweeping ban.
They dubbed this mass banning as Operation: Game Over.
As a result of Operation: Game Over, 3,580 accounts of New York state sex offenders have been purged – or their communication privileges suspended – from the gaming platforms owned by Microsoft, Apple, Blizzard Entertainment, Electronic Arts, Warner Bros. and Disney Interactive Media Group.
This move was done to protect underage persons from falling victim to any of these sexual offenders in a realm where they are most vulnerable and with little adult supervision. The ESA issued their own statement on the matter.
"Our industry welcomes appropriate efforts allowing people of all ages to play games in a safer environment. Online game play with friends is a social experience and we encourage parents to be aware of what games their children are enjoying and with whom they are interacting in the virtual space. Through the use of robust parental controls and awareness of the online world, playing games online can be a fulfilling and rich experience." – Christian Genetski, Senior Vice President and General Counsel
Microsoft also offered up their own official comment regarding the bans.
"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. By leveraging the online identity information all registered sex offenders are required to provide, we are able to help reduce potentially harmful situations. We're supportive of Attorney General Schneiderman's efforts to make the Internet, including online gaming environments like Xbox LIVE, safer for everyone."
How long has your organization been working with the AG office on this initiative?
"We can confirm Microsoft was one of several companies in the video game industry that worked over the course of several months to partner with the New York State Office of the Attorney General as part of this action.
If you can speak to it, what did the process entail on the part of your organization?
We compared specific member details against data collected by New York State under the e-STOP law. This is data that registered sex offenders in New York are required to provide to the state. We are using very specific data to ensure the accuracy of individual bans and providing an appeal process out of an abundance of caution.
These bans seem to have been issued whether or not these persons actually did anything of note through their online presence.