Yesterday, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced an agreement with 3 national ISPs-- Verizon, Time Warner Cable and Sprint-- to block access to newsgroups and web sites distributing child pornography.
Press Release: Attorney General Cuomo Announces Unprecedented Deal With Nation’s Largest Internet Service Providers To Block Major Sources Of Child Pornography
An undercover investigation by the Attorney General’s office uncovered a major source of online child pornography known as “Newsgroups,” an online service not associated with websites. The Newsgroups act as online public bulletin boards where users can upload and download files. Users access Newsgroups through their Internet Service Providers. As part of the agreements, Verizon, Time Warner Cable, and Sprint will for the first time completely block access to all child porn Newsgroups.…
In addition to eliminating the Newsgroups, the ISPs have also agreed to purge their servers of all child pornography websites identified by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (“NCMEC”). NCMEC regularly reviews and updates its registry of these illegal sites to ensure the list reflects the current presence of such websites on the Internet.
Also yesterday, down at the other end of the New Jersey Turnpike in Philadelphia, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals once again heard oral arguments appealing the constitutionality of COPA, the Children Online Protection Act, which has been under review from federal courts since the Clinton Administration.
This argument was appealing last year's district court decision ACLU v. Gonzalez, No. 98-5591 (EDPA 2007). The most recent Supreme Court ruling was Ashcroft v. ACLU, 542 U.S. 656 (2004)
ACLU press release: ACLU Urges Court To Uphold Ban On Unconstitutional Censorship Law, "The American Civil Liberties Union is in court today, once again urging the courts to uphold a ban on a law that criminalizes constitutionally protected speech on the Internet. The Child Online Protection Act (COPA) would impose draconian criminal sanctions, with penalties of up to $50,000 per day and up to six months imprisonment, for online material acknowledged as protected for adults but deemed 'harmful to minors.'"
Here is various reporting and reactions on the NYAG agreement with ISPs:
New York Times, 3 Internet Providers Agree to Block Access to Child Pornography: "The move is part of a groundbreaking agreement with the New York attorney general, Andrew M. Cuomo, that will be formally announced on Tuesday as a significant step by leading companies to curtail access to child pornography. Many in the industry have previously resisted similar efforts, saying they could not be responsible for content online, given the decentralized and largely unmonitored nature of the Internet."
Declan McCullagh, News.com, N.Y. attorney general forces ISPs to curb Usenet access: "Time Warner Cable said it will cease to offer customers access to any Usenet newsgroups, a decision that will affect customers nationwide. Sprint said it would no longer offer any of the tens of thousands of alt.* Usenet newsgroups. Verizon's plan is to eliminate some 'fairly broad newsgroup areas.'"
Susan Crawford, Knowing less: "The announcement this morning in the Times that New York State AG Andrew Cuomo had reached an agreement with three US network operators (Verizon, Sprint, and Time Warner) about blocking child pornography was both less and more important than it appeared."
Derek Bambauer, Info/Law, Time Warner Gets It Wrong, and the French Follow the Model: "As more details emerge, though, I’m more skeptical about the plan. First, I held off assessing how narrow this filtering system would be (does it successfully block child porn, and only child porn?), since technical details are sketchy. But if the latest reports are to be believed, I’m ready to make a call: completely overbroad."
David Kravets, Threat Level from Wired.com, Communications Decency Act Tipping Under Cuomo Kid-Porn Accord: "It's commendable that New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo wants to curb online child porn. But his accord with Verizon, Time Warner Cable and Sprint -- which more ISPs are likely to join -- opens up a Pandora's box of chilling side effects."
Nancy Prager, Reasonable Balance, Copyright is important, but other things much more so…: "While some might argue that the system that the Attorney General’s office has developed to identify content might catch content that is not in fact child pornography, New York’s action is a giant step in the right direction to protect children and to make the Internet a safe place for all."
Dan Radosh, Blogging about child pornography is a $20 billion industry: "You will be shocked to hear that I have some questions and comments about today's front page New York Times story on an agreement by Internet providers to block sites that disseminate kiddie porn. This isn't necessarily an indictment of the agreement or the article, just a reminder that these things have a way of not being discussed as thoroughly as they should be."
David Isenberg, isen.blog: Meet the newest Internet Governance Body: "This is, in my humble opinion, a populist wedge issue to undermine the Internet's neutrality. I wish the carriers would stay the &^%$ out of content."