A state lawmaker in New York says the wildly popular smartphone game "Pokemon Go" could inadvertently give sexual predators easy access to new prey.
To ensure that doesn't happen, the state should prohibit higher-level sex offenders from being able to play the game, and others like it, Sen. Jeffrey Klein said. The Bronx Democrat also proposes requiring game manufacturers to take steps to ensure the virtual Pokemon creatures don't pop up near the homes of sexual offenders.
"While children believe they are out to catch a Pokemon, what might really be lurking could be a predator instead of a Pikachu," Klein said, referring to a type of Pokemon creature. "We want our children to have safe fun, but it makes no sense at all to give dangerous sexual predators a virtual road map to where our children congregate."
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Users playing "Pokemon Go" roam through the physical world searching for virtual Pokemon creatures. The game also allows players to attract other users using so-called "lures."
Klein said the state already prohibits high-level offenders from using social media, and said it makes sense to prohibit them from playing a game that could easily be used for malicious purposes.
In addition, Klein's proposal would require game makers to cross reference the state's sexual offender registry to automatically delete any Pokemon creatures near the residence of an offender.
An investigation by the senator's office found several instances of Pokemon creatures near the homes of sex offenders, he said.
He predicted the game is only the first of a wave of similar augmented reality games.
A message sent by The Associated Press seeking comment from the game's manufacturers was not immediately returned Friday.