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When a spot on the sex offender registry means no online gaming

When someone in Maryland is released from prison on a sex crime charge, he or she often has to register as a sex offender. There are numerous complications that come with a spot on the sex offender registry, including making the charges and behavior that led to a conviction public to anyone with access to a computer. Now, video game companies may be making it impossible for those on the sex offender registry to participate in online gaming.

Eight video game companies have recently partnered with one state's attorney general's office to close over 3,500 people's online gaming accounts just because they are on that state's sex offender registry. While it looks like this type of agreement has only happened in one state, it is very possible that the Maryland attorney general may come to a similar agreement with video game companies.

Authorities say that they are concerned that people who have served time for sex crimes may use the online aspect of the games to find and come into contact with children who are also playing the games. Although it is possible that some people on the sex offender registry may do such a thing, it is likely that a great number of people would never use their online gaming accounts for criminal activities. Since some people who are on the sex offender registry were added because they were just barely adults and had consensual intercourse with a partner who was just under the age of consent, the outright ban seems a little far-reaching.

Being on the Maryland sex offender registry means years' or a lifetime worth of difficulty. Any time the person travels, he or she needs to let the state to which he or she is traveling know of the criminal charges. Moreover, he or she cannot prevent neighbors and employers from knowing of what charges he or she was convicted.

Source: The New York Times, "Video-Game Companies Agree to Close Sex Offenders' Online Accounts," Joseph Goldstein, April 5, 2012

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