Usenet Villified In NY Deal With ISPs

Child porn investigation likely wipes Usenet access

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New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s office reached agreements with three big broadband providers to pare back access to the newsgroups on Usenet, in the name of fighting child pornography.

Sprint, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon will block access to newsgroups, and track down and delete sites hosted on their servers, in an effort to stop the proliferation of child pornography. The three ISPs also plan to pay a collective $1.125 million to Cuomo’s office and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) to fund additional kiddie porn-fighting efforts.

Cuomo’s office announced the agreement, which arrived after an undercover probe by New York investigators. They discovered thousands of images distributed through 88 newsgroups; as these newsgroups were in the alt.* hierarchy, subscribers to the three ISPs could in theory access them.

The actions to be taken by the ISPs will vary, as CNET noted. Time Warner Cable will turn off all newsgroup access, while Sprint plans to cut access to the whole alt.* segment. Verizon may follow Sprint’s example.

Blocking all newsgroups does appear to be a broad approach to a problem involving a minority of such groups. As with the Internet in general, not everything in Usenet poses a threat. But no one wants to be tainted with even a suggestion of being soft on child porn, hence the rush to apply censorship with a sweeping axe rather than a skillfully-wielded scalpel.

Usenet Villified In NY Deal With ISPs
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  • Guest

    My feeling is that although the crimes should be addressed, and precautions should be taken, the outright removal of ALL newsgroups seems entirely unfair. There are plenty of newsgroups that are completely legitimate. Microsoft, Apple, Google and even our Government all have newsgroup relations. TO kill this access to information seems a great deal overboard.
    FOr me, this was the final straw. TWC was only kept around as my ISP because of Usenet access. Without this, I am leaving. I joined www.newsdemon.com and they’re actually better than any usenet access that Ive had with an ISP, or with any other Usenet provider for that matter.
    Now the mission is to find another ISP that has my interest in mind rather than one that takes advantage of a situation in order  to cut costs on bandwidth.
    D. Linus

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