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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 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.


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