Monday, 16 June 2008


Democrat AG, ISPs, team up to block 99% of usenet

So Sprint, Time Warner, and Verizon made a deal with New York Attorney General (Democrat) Andrew Cuomo to “block websites and newsgroups containing child pornography” (and pay $1.125 million extortion) in exchange for Cuomo making his agency’s trumped-up charges[1] of “fraud and deceptive business practices” go away.

Aside from getting out from Cuomo’s harassment and the “it’s for the CHILL-DRUN” photo-op, what’s in it for the ISPs?  This:

Verizon Communications confirmed on Thursday that it will stop offering its customers access to tens of thousands of Usenet discussion areas, including the alt.* groups that have been a free-flowing area for discussions for over two decades.
What this means in practice is that, thanks to the New York state attorney general, Verizon customers will lose out on innocent discussions.  Verizon is retaining only eight newsgroup hierarchies, even though over 1,000 hierarchies exist. [link in original - o.g.]

Usenet (“net news”) is a service that most of the big ISPs have been eager to dump for a long time.  Despite being unknown to (and unused by) most customers, net news (unlike the “world wide web”) requires the individual ISP to maintain server capacity and some level of administration for it.  The Cuomo agreement gives the ISPs cover for getting rid of something they have long viewed as an expensive nuisance, all in the name of combatting child p0rn.

And because it involves nation-wide companies, the agreement has nation-wide implications:  Effectively, a combination of New York State politicians, QUANGOs[2], and the big providers will determine what part of the internet the rest of the country can access.

Oh, and how much child pr0n are they talking about?  About 11,000 images on 88 (out of 100,000+) groups.

And how many groups are getting censored?  Roughly 99% of them.

And Democrats are champions of freedom?

I’m so glad to see my liberties are in such responsible hands.

[1] From the Times coverage:
...undercover agents from Mr. Cuomo’s office, posing as subscribers, complained to Internet providers that they were allowing child pornography to proliferate online, despite customer service agreements that discouraged such activity.
[2] In this case, the QUANGO is the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which will maintain a list that, under the agreement, the ISPs will be required to vet web sites against.
According to its annual report (available here), 71% of the NCMEP’s income comes from federal sources.  NCMEP runs the Amber Alert program, but, in a classic case of “mission creep,” it now spends more- 25% of its program expenses- on “Cyber-safety.”  Only 18% goes to “Hotline and photo distribution,”  which is also less than the 21% NCMEP spent on propaganda “Public Education and Awareness” (14%) and “Community Outreach” (7%).

Posted by: Old Grouch in Rants at 16:12:14 GMT | No Comments | Add Comment
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