In previous posts, we’ve discussed various sting operations by Florida law enforcement. Such operations frequently target Internet sex crimes, using applications such as text messaging or chat rooms, and involve an undercover officer posing as a minor. Today’s story highlights a new virtual territory for such enforcement efforts: online video games.

Some authorities fear the chat and private messaging functions of those online gaming interfaces might provide an opportunity for sexual predators to meet and solicit children. Authorities also believe that many parents aren’t aware that the games possess those interface capabilities.

According to another state’s attorney general, online video game platforms frequented by minors might be susceptible to solicitation from adult sex offenders. To prevent that from happening, the state’s attorney general required the online gaming accounts of more than 2,100 registered sex offenders to be deleted.

Microsoft, Apple, Blizzard Entertainment, Electronic Arts, Disney Interactive, Warner Brothers and Sony all agreed to participate in the initiative — which is the state’s second action in this vein. Last spring, it required several online game companies to revoke the subscriptions of more than 3,800 customers convicted of sex crimes.

The state requires sex offenders to register all of their online identities with the state. The compiled list is then supplied to private Internet companies, who are instructed to cross-reference the list against their own user databases and remove the accounts of any matching identities.

Florida sex offenders face a variety of penalties in the event of a conviction, which may include mandatory sex offender registration, long imprisonment, and sexual counseling. However, the measures taken in this other Eastern coastal state may foretell additional restrictions.

Source: nbcnews.com, “NY ousts sex offenders from online games,” Ben Weitzenkorn, Dec. 20, 2012