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Voluntarily censor one of the internet's oldest mediums

Sprint, Verizon, and Time Warner cable agreed to a nationwide block on access to Usenet newsgroups that offer child pornography, wrapping up an eight month undercover investigation and complaint from the New York Attorney General’s office.

“The pervasiveness of child pornography on the Internet is horrific and it needs to be stopped,” said New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, speaking in a press release.  “We are attacking this problem by working with Internet Service Providers to ensure they do not play host to this immoral business.  I commend the companies that have stepped up today to embrace a new standard of responsibility, which should serve as a model for the entire industry.”

Usenet – one of the internet’s oldest applications – dates back to a time long before the World Wide Web. Its popularity died down as web sites and web-based message boards came into vogue, relegating it to a forgotten “back alley” frequented by niche crowds. One thing Usenet hasn’t been forgotten for, however, is its ability to store and distribute files such as music and, in this case, pornography.

Traditionally, ISPs have stayed out of enforcing restrictions on what its users’ access, citing the legal immunity granted to them by maintaining a policy of noninterference. That immunity has come under attack from a wide variety of sources. Previous aggressors include the content industry, frustrated with ISPs’ permissive stance on piracy, as well as the ISPs’ themselves as they explore ways to further monetize their infrastructure. Now, with its investigation concluding, ISPs can add the New York state Attorney General’s office to that list.

Investigators had to take an unusual course of action, however. Traditional approaches failed; ISPs responded with a routine disclaimer of responsibility for the content of their networks. Instead, investigators chose to invoke a section of each their service agreements that promised to take action against users who distribute child porn; when the contacted ISPs failed to act after receiving a series of anonymous complaints from investigators, the Attorney General’s office pounced by threatening to charge them with fraud and deceptive business practices. The ensuing agreement was a result of these threats.

Cuomo says the unconventional approach was necessary, because traditional methods are not working. Attacking individual distributors has “limited effectiveness,” he said, because American demand for child pornography is often supplied internationally, frequently hailing from countries doing little in the way of enforcement.

“The ISPs’ point had been, ‘We’re not responsible, these are individuals communicating with individuals, we’re not responsible,’ ” said Cuomo.  “Our point was that at some point, you do bear responsibility.”

As part of its agreement, the three ISPs will also pay $1.125 million to underwrite the investigation and “fund additional efforts by the Attorney General’s office and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children to remove child pornography from the Internet.”



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RE: Nice try, but...
By PWNettle on 6/11/2008 2:31:42 PM , Rating: 3
"Legalize the rest of substances and that tragedy can only be increased greatly, particularly with our youth."

I disagree. If it's legal it's regulated and no child can just walk into any store and buy it. They have to have their parents or some other adult do it - someone more readily tracked than joe anonymous dealer on the street who will sell to anyone with cash.

In addition, if it's legal it can be taxed, and that money can be used for drug education and treatment. In the current system not only do the profits not go toward this but we're also spending tons on fighting the "war on drugs", wasting law enforcement resources, and lining the pockets of lawyers. All the profits are going to criminals (not that shifting them to corporations would really be a whole lot different).

Drugs are super cheap to make - if they were legal you could tax the crap out of them and they'd still be cheaper than current street prices. Quality (and safety) would be higher for those that choose to use them.

If people want to use drugs its their choice. Obviously there is huge demand for it. Prohibition didn't work because people want to use booze. The war on drugs doesn't work either - it just makes a lot of otherwise normal people into criminals.

Cigarettes are nothing but death and illness and they're legal.

Alcohol is incredibly unhealthy and leads to all kinds of irresponsible killing (drunk drivers) and abuse (spouse/child beating). It's legal.

Some currently illegal drugs are harmless, like weed, and some are incredibly destructive in lots of ways, like meth.

But it's kind of illogical to allow two proven killers and health disasters (cigs and alcohol) to be legal while making other drugs illegal. If you're gonna let people kill themselves and ruin their families with substances, why be picky about which substances they're using?

Why not regulate it all, educate people, let people make their own decisions, tax the crap out of it all (while still making it cheaper and higher quality), and unburden our legal system so they can deal with real crime?

As a side note. Some people are just irresponsible scumbags that shouldn't breed. It doesn't matter whether they do drugs, drink alcholol, or do neither - they aren't fit to raise children and shouldn't spawn. Substance abuse might escalate their inability to have a life, but they'd be losers and crappy parents with or without substances.


RE: Nice try, but...
By Noya on 6/11/2008 6:05:03 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
If it's legal it's regulated and no child can just walk into any store and buy it. They have to have their parents or some other adult do it - someone more readily tracked than joe anonymous dealer on the street who will sell to anyone with cash.


That's so true. I recall in high school even as a freshmen I could buy an 1/8 of weed so much easier than I could a 12-pack of brew.


RE: Nice try, but...
By mindless1 on 6/12/2008 6:29:22 AM , Rating: 2
I don't think you've thought through your argument very far, so I'll just point out the faults in it.

- We do know many drugs are harmful, it's not just the illegality of it creating a black market and the associated costs and crime. Some may not have started out as conventional recreational drugs but are still controlled substances because people need to be protected from taking drugs (especially for medicinal purposes) that could kill them without their physician's supervision.

- If it's legal and regulated, and kids have to have some adult get it for them, it is no different than when I bought booze being underage. Nobody tracked that person who either bought it for me or the store clerk. Maybe they rarely tried to do so, I mean the ATF stings on clerks, but we know underage kids readlily get alcohol as a contradition to your assumption.

- If it's legal and taxed we have even more users, and less productive citizens so the tax base could even go down. Causing an illness to profit from it to treat that illness is a horrific idea.

- Having drugs cheaper than street prices would tend to cause them to disrupt people's lives even more than they do. Enabling people to do more drugs, cheaper, is not the answer!

- Prohibition did work. "Work" almost always means reduce the targeted problem, even if it introduces new problems. Work doesn't have to mean perfect. Does exercise "work"? Yes. Does it make us all superhuman? No. It (prohibition) did significantly reduce the consumption of alcohol among the masses, regardless of the few who make a bundle on the black market and continued drinking. Don't believe everything you see glamorized in a old movie.

- Cigarettes are death and illness but you think weed isn't? Do you mean eating it instead of smoking it? You must, and yet if it were legal, would people only eat it? If weed were legal people would smoke enough to cause similar health problems to smoking. Perhaps a bit fewer as the nature of nicotine being a stimulant may cause greater amounts to be smoked, but it still falls into that death and illness category if we're going to start making such grand classifications.

- Alcohol is not incredibly unhealthy. Excessive consumption of it is. So is excessive consumption of fat, salt, even water if only you drank enough. Many studies have held that drinking a beer, glass of wine or two a day is more healthy than not doing so.

- You have no reasonable way to pre-judge who should and should not breed. It is true that some people make terrible parents, and if harming their child then the child should be removed from that situation, but never should people be denied the basic right to reproduce just because you don't approve of something they might believe, some way they might live, or for any other reason except non-adherance to the laws we have set forth to govern us.

Lastly, I think you are mistaken about root causes of typical parental child abuse. A very large portion of it is in fact due to (parental) substance abuse of some kind or a similar state of poor mental health because of being abused themselves. People aren't born being "scumbags", nor do they choose this. People inherantly choose to do what they feel benefits them, but some are prevented from learning the life skills they need to make the best choices. Some say drug abuse is hereditary, but I would sooner say child abuse is and drug abuse is only a symptom.

I would even go so far as to say child porn is a symption since many who are addicted to it seem drawn in by having power over someone presumed innocent, a similar kind of relationship to what their own parent may have had over them. In this context, you are right that we can see in retrospect some people shouldn't have been allowed to parent their child, but we cannot as a people pre-judge someone guilty of a crime they have not committed just because of what they might do - everyone has the ability to choose to do the wrong thing, and to turn around and depart from that behavior.


"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997

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