The online video game accounts of more than 3,500 registered New York sex offenders have been deleted, the state's Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced Thursday.
Under New York State law, convicted sex offenders must register not only their home address with law enforcement, but also their e-mail address and any other Internet identifiers, such as online screen names.
The New York Attorney General's office then made those names available to companies like Microsoft, Apple, Electronic Arts, Disney, Warner Brothers and Sony -- all of which run popular online interactive games such as "Call of Duty" and "World of Warcraft."
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Those companies voluntarily agreed to purge the accounts, or at least have the user's communication privileges suspended, according to Schneiderman's office.
But the New York Civil Liberties Union expressed some concern with the Attorney General's program, calling the intent admirable but invasive.
"Schemes like this one ... trample on the right to free speech and expression," said Jennifer Carnig, a spokeswoman for the NYCLU. "And the problem this initiative is trying to solve is almost non-existent. Children are almost always abused by people they know."
Never been done in New York before
"Operation Game Over," as the AG's initiative was called, marks the first time anything like that had been done in New York state, and child safety advocates praised both the AG and the companies for agreeing to delete the accounts.
"We know sex offenders target and lure children and how they look at the online community as their private hunting ground," said John Walsh, co-founder of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and host of "America's Most Wanted."
"This sends a strong message that sexual predators can't hide behind anonymous profiles online anymore," said Mary Haviland, who runs the New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault.
Boy abused after he met man online
Earlier this month, Richard Kretovic, a 19-year-old man from Monroe County, N.Y., pled guilty to sexual abuse charges after meeting a 10-year-old boy on the popular online video game system Xbox LIVE. The man gained the boy's trust over a period of three months, say police, and then invited the child over to his house, which is where the sexual abuse occurred.