back to article New York pressures more ISPs into child pornography crackdown

Bowing to continued pressure from the New York Attorney General, two more big-name American ISPs have shut down access to dozens of Usenet newsgroups that contain child pornography - and many more that don't. Yesterday, New York AG Andrew Cuomo announced that AT&T and AOL had agreed to eliminate access to 88 newsgroups where …

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  1. heystoopid
    Paris Hilton

    Oh no

    Oh no , I won't be able to buy or sell those cute child like angel winged cherub garden fountain ornaments with their unique water aerating abilities for the big fish pond out the front in full public view !

    What a disaster , better send in the plasterers to cover the ones on the ceiling and wall frescoes scattered throughout the assorted churches in the Vatican City and numerous other highly religious churches in this wide world of ours !

    Can it get any worse asks ph ?

  2. Alan Donaly
    Stop

    This is an outrage.

    It's possible for any site on the internet to have child pornography available, shutting down usenet is exactly the sort of thing Tim Berners Lee and others were afraid of the hijacking of the internet by corporations it's not too late we need to end this crap now before it's too late.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I smell a rat

    The RIAA and MPAA would love to get rid of usenet and if they can blame it on kiddy porn all the better... anyone that complains must be a sick pervert. The ISPs don't care as maybe 2% of users even know what it is.

    And they can all say... Not our fault! We had to do it! Think of the children.

  4. BillPhollins

    Coumo

    This Coumo (pron. coma) guy is like the Jack Thompson of child porn. Of course Time/Warner have no other interest in shutting down usenet binaries that shovel loads of illegal warez and mp3s about. Giganews will be rubbing their mits, though.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Ban it

    Can anyone advise me if there is actually a legitimate use for the alt.binaries newsgroups? I can understand how Usenet was beneficial in the old days before websites became the established means of storing and serving material, when would-be webmasters were crawling out of their single line bulletin board systems into the brave new world. But today they just seem to be used as a source of almost unlimited (and almost free) pornography, nearly all of it copyrighted to a legitimate provider (ie. stolen). And that's not even touching on the issue of child pornography finding its way there due to an almost complete lack of controls and every provider or carrier disclaiming themselves of any responsibility.

    I can't imagine if I was an ISP I would want to touch this service, and what about the commercial aspects of storing and transfering terrabytes of data (porn) daily? Maybe without the burden of alt.binaries the net will be faster and cheaper.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "hijacking of the internet by corporations"

    Hey, if it's so easy to run an ISP the way *you* want them run, why not start your own, rather than letting the Internet be "hijacked by corporations"?

    At that point you'll soon realise that running a worthwhile binary news service in an era of copyright mickeytaking (which is what most usenet binaries content is, in GB-downloaded terms) is one of the most expensive things an ISP can do, which is why many of the mass-market UK ISPs have either outsourced binary news or given up altogether. But I'm not aware of any of them that have blocked access to externally-provided newsgroups, so folks that still want to watch US TV or DVDs before they arrive in the UK can still do so, *providing* they're willing to pay a commercial news binaries provider (or really on a mate with a subscription). And the smarter ISPs still happily provide the full range of text newsgroups, which don't involve anything like the same costs. (Check out the TB/day involved in a full news feed, and the GB/s downloaded from a worthwhile news binaries server).

    Does that still count as "hijacking the Internet"?

  7. JoePritchard

    @Alan Donaly

    The funny thing is I don't see any Corporates putting child pornography up there, do you?

    This abuse of the net is being done by abusers who've exploited the anonymity inherent in USENET to their own evil ends.

    I don't use USENET anymore but feel that it should be protected. The problem is that over the years anyone attempting to curtail content - however obnoxious - in this corner of the Internet has tended to be shot down in flames. Remember all the nonsense years ago about whether or not to use Bots to clear up spam?

    We do need to stop this crap - but quite how I have no idea. Curtialing access to the binary groups is overkill but at least it's an attempt. Most legitimate material on the binary groups is probably more easily distributed via web sites, FTP or even email these days. And illegitimate material...well...

  8. Nexox Enigma

    @This is an outrage.

    Nah, it's too late. Once profits and politics get into a thing, it's lost. I'm just surprised that the Internet has lasted this long. In a couple years the only useful, non-corporate uses of the Internet will be in tiny little darknets, until the media figures out that those might have kiddie porn on them too.

    Lets just hope it takes them a while to catch up with whatever sneaky tech we can come up with.

  9. Lachlan sturrock
    Paris Hilton

    Hmm quick fix for piracy?

    Call me cynical, but doesn't this also allow the ISP's to claim they are dealing with piracy too?

    Not that an ISP would take such an obviously draconian step to deal with piracy of course.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Utopia arrives.

    So all the pedos are suddenly all cured and run screaming into the streets to praise the AG, ISPs and Jeeeeesus?

    Or will they just be shelling out a few dollars on an SSL connection to a third party news server, as mentioned? Or steal WiFi? Or go find a real kid?

    The problem is the fucked up society, collapsing under an ever-bloating state/corporate blanket of control, inefficiency, propaganda and calculatedly damaging "social engineering". Maybe if people were generally happier, not overworked, had some wages left to have a good time, and had control over their lives and futures with a servile *proportionally elected* government... Some people just might not turn sicko and go looking for their kicks in this or other disgusting ways?

    Nah what am I saying... Never gonna happen!

  11. Dave Bell

    Here we go again...

    Anyone remember a guy called French, from the Clubs and Vice unit of the Metropolitan Police?

    But there's three, maybe four, different things here:

    1: 88 newsgroups which are carrying child porn.

    2: Binaries newsgroups, which carry incredible amounts of data, including a lot of copyright infringement, and which make any full newsgroup service expensive.

    3: The rest.

    If you wish to split alt.* from other ASCII newsgroups, feel free. A lot of them a zero-traffic with all the message in the newsgroup name. Others are good enough to be Big-8 (alt.fan.landrover comes to mind.)

    Cutting off the first group is pretty useless. The bastards will just go somewhere else.

    Cutting out all binaries could make commercial sense: there are certainly news servers which choose not to carry them. They consume a lot of resources.

    It's the complete closure thing which is the bad news. Yes, there are the alternatives, but does signing up with a news server that supplies binaries make you into a target?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    As I said before.....

    If the ISP's can do the work of the music industry for free then they sure has hell can do such more worthwhile work as *trying* to shut down and rid internet of illegal content. For a decade or more UK ISP's have bleated that they could not crack down on ANY content, then month or so ago they decided they would cut off users who downloaded music files illegally, and this opens the door for them to now have to

    cut off access to any content deemed illegal. I personally think the ISP's should have been forced to cut off newsgroups a decade ago.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    These people are idiots

    I'm sorry; the title says it all.

    Paris, 'cos even she knows better.

  14. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  15. Kevin Fields

    It's sad, but it's not the end of the world

    No ISP is required to carry Usenet, and indeed, I'm surprised that most of them do still carry it since it's really not much more than a muddy backroad on the Internet, it doesn't make them money, and between the porn and the warez, it is entirely more trouble than it is worth.

    At least they're not banning anybody's right to access Usenet newsgroups, they're simply declining to directly particpate in it and provide it to their customers. You're still free to find another Usenet server to play on.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    news binaries user = loss-making customer (for most ISPs)

    Once upon a time there was a half decent UK ISP called Pipex (largely unrelated to the current Pipex).

    The service wasn't bad, but the news binaries was rubbish (completion and retention and speed), and being a half decent ISP they decided to do something about it. They recycled some kit, spent some money, and ended up with one of the best "free" (ie included in the base tariff) news binaries services in the UK market. Which was great, for a couple of weeks. Then word started to spread and the heavy mob moved in. First, the servers collapsed under the load. So the server farm was expanded. The next thing was that the expensive ISP->customer bandwidth was saturated by the constant load from warez downloads. It made no sense to buy more bandwidth for just a tiny proportion of customers, so news download quotas were introduced; a few GB a month bundled, pay more if you want more, and obviously the problem goes away because the problem users go away. Pipex then had a few other issues such as a change of ownership but that's another story.

    The moral of the story is that sensible ISPs don't want customers who make heavy use of news binaries, because an ISP with even a tiny proportion of those customers is wasting a huge amount of expensive bandwidth on them. And bandwidth don't come for free. It's not about IT, it's about economics.

  17. bertie bassett

    Anyone still use usenet?

    Can't say I've look at newsgroups for about 3 years, until a moment of nostalgia prompted we to have a quick look at uk.telecom via google. All the reasons why usenet is flawed compared to a moderatored forum, came right back to me; spam, spam, off-topic posts, general abuse and hard to find the wood from the trees. Now lets go and have a look at some more blasts from the past..

    Why would people us usenet now?

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    @Alan Donaly

    You mean the Web, right? That's what Tim Berners Lee was involved in. Usenet is another part of the Internet.

    But yeah, it is possible for any website, FTP server or anything to have child porn on it. And banning anything below alt.binaries means that someone's going to come along and create alt.binaries2 in a week or two.

  19. Scott Silver badge
    Flame

    Inverted commas needed

    These should be used when discussing "pornography crackdown", "intellectual property", "war on terror" and so on.

    Not doing this indicates acceptance that those words are the real agenda.

    What other subjects should be treated this way?

  20. Wayland Sothcott Bronze badge
    Paris Hilton

    I used to use it on Demon

    Before there was any decent porn on the web I used to live in the usenet. It was very lively and had forums similar to this one. Many of the demon forums were especially good. It was weird in those days that the web was a curiosity that did not seem a very practical way of using the Internet since there was not a lot there. Then Altavista got things moving.

    I remember demon explaining that they did not ban the alt.sex.childpornography type news groups because by leaving them you could be sure that would be where the child pornography would be posted. If they were banned then the kiddy porn would start showing up in alt.sex.landrovers. The landrover shaggers would not be amused.

    If the whole usegroups are canceled then you can expect Lolita to start showing her underdeveloped breasticals on landrovers main website.

    Paris because I am too old for her, slurp...

  21. N Silver badge

    But what if...

    if paedophiles were burnt alive, this wouldnt be a problem

  22. Wile E. Veteran
    Boffin

    Just go back to UUCP

    Dial up your friend, transfer X MB of compressed, packaged data from him/her, unpack locally. Pack up the subscription list (proper subset of your own groups) and serve them up to your friends.

    Use UUCP over IP through an SSL tunnel (instead of physical dialup) and AT&T/AOL/TW/WOW/whoever doesn't get to see a thing. Nothing to invent (or re-invent).

    Child pr0n **must** be stopped - it is beyond evil - but if the ISP's think they're going to stop it this way, they're greatly mistaken!

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Ban it

    Let's put it this way

    When people started banning alt.binaries.stuff.with.porn.in.it then the porn got posted in alt.binaries.pictures.holidaysnaps instead.

    Nothing stops people posting warez in alt.fan.startrek.voyager or alt.spank.jennifer.capriati (yes, it exists) so I for one fail to see what banning alt.binaries.* will achieve.

    The one good thing about usenet is it includes a traceback to the machine which posted. Sure, you can fake a trace back before that but on examination you can establish where the real trace begins.

  24. john trotter
    Black Helicopters

    political game

    results of 'crackdown'

    1) ISP gets to drop a service it has contracted to deliver - saves money - money to Cumo's 'crusade' is cheaper. Please note your fees will NOT be reduced. Profit up and companys image is polished.

    2) Cumo gets advertised as fighting a problem "Kiddie Porn" - But like most politicos he picks a problem that has no solution. If he solved it then he would have to find one before the next election. Otherwise he would lose votes.

    Cumo can crusade against porn on the internet (remember the 2257 rules?). Since this problem is unlikely to be solved he can get election after election out of it.

    If he chased people who crashed the mortgage industry by faking buyers credit status he could get convictions - but not forever.

    He even has gotten on the local radio stations here in Houston.

    He's more fond of the problem than the fix.

    It's the same as crusades to prevent polutution by oil drilling or global warming

    or to fight the scourge of homosexuality-something that won't go away but will get votes. Many political causes had the same objejective - keep some pompass politico in power.

  25. theotherone

    why not

    why not just shut down the internet altogether? that'll definitely get rid of all the kiddie porn...

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Go

    Get IPv6

    What's to stop anybody from getting a tunnel from one of the free tunnel providers like tunnelbroker.net, and then getting free alt.binaries from somewhere like newszilla6.xs4all.nl?

    Then again, that would take some effort to actually configure something and set it up. But wouldn't the internet as a whole be a lot better off if it took a little more know-how and effort to get connected? Didn't people complain when AOL started offering usenet access? And now they're complaining again when major ISPs don't offer certain newsgroups anymore.

    And yes, whatever excuse the ISPs give for cutting of or discontinuing certain services, it's just to cut costs. For ISPs it's part of "finding value in what we have," i.e. charging the most the market will bear for the least amount of service they have to provide to attract customers.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When I was young

    I could see my naked body when I had a bath, also during PE I could see other naked kids, live and in 3D!

    I wonder what a wifi laptop with usenet access would have done for our eyesight back then?

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    @bertie bassett

    You can't be serious re: Usenet?

    I read maybe 30-40 groups on a regular basis.. It's VASTLY superior to any web-based forum (Is there another type I'm missing?)

    The spam in the groups I read is next to non-existant, including very little in uk.telecom which you said you'd read? Perhaps your provider isn't cleaning up your feed?

    My short list of pros for Usenet re: Web based forums:

    * No avatars/smileys/other crap..

    * Mark articles for offline reading in case I've no net access..

    * I can archive any interesting articles by dragging them off to a folder..

    * Search archives/downloaded articles rapidly..

    * I can read articles over a cellphone data connection without it hitting my data allocation badly.. Often on web based forums you download a 200kb page only to find one sentence replies by whole bunches of people..

    * True threading..

    * Quickly sort by name/date/subject..

    * Ability to ignore posts based on user/thread etc..

    * No policing by power hungry moderators..

    The main advantage is plain speed. Articles download quickly, and you can navigate them rapidly by banging a few keys.

    I've been using the Internet now for about 15 years, and Usenet for maybe 3 months less than that. I will never understand why Usenet's popularity has dwindled in that time, and why folk would rather read messages on unfriendly web-boards. If you can show me one website with a discussion forum that works as well as news software I'll change my mind.. Even Outlook Express does a half decent job over web-based forums!

    Usenet is a very undervalued portion of the Internet.. But maybe it's better unseen though.. I'd hate to see users from MSN/Yahoo Answers etc move over to it.

  29. Kurt Faasse
    Jobs Horns

    I thought I recognized your particular stench

    The tighter you squeeze your fist, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Its the anonymity that does it!

    As someone said at the start of this thread, there is an inherent anonymity in Usenet. I they force everyone to sign up with a paid provider, then they have all the credit card details to trace people from. Of course whether it is the right people or some stolen card is another question entirely. But so long as they have someone in prison it doesn't seem that US law enforcement is too concerned if it is the right one.

    After all, if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear. Tell me, why do our Great Leader and his cohorts not let everybody have a peer in his windows? Why do they have curtains?

  31. Ash
    Unhappy

    Usenet

    Who the hell told a bunch of morons like AOL about Usenet?

    Someone's been breaking the first two rules...

  32. Doug Wilson
    Flame

    @Pete Irving

    You've got a problem with nearly limitless, almost free pornography being available to anyone that wants it? Why?

    The children can fend for themselves. I'm tired of their "defenders" messing with my rights to enjoy things in my own home that are harmless to others just because the children are somewhere they shouldn't be in the first place. Parents need to quit shirking their responsibilities and look after their little demon spawn instead of expecting everyone else to do it for them.

    P.S. I do NOT in any way support child porn and truth be told I don't bother with the normal stuff that often.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Too little too late.

    Why didn't AOL block access to newsgroups back in the '90s *before* the deluge of the uneducated masses, squawking brats and spam spewing net-hogs that turned a useful online service into a hangout for paedos and spammers?

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    @ AC

    "Even Outlook Express does a half decent job over web-based forums!"

    That's just going too far. OE is obviously terrible software to start with, and even more awful when it comes to newsgroups. HTML postings, breaking sigs, etc.

  35. Rick Eastwood

    @ Doug Wilson

    WTF ?!?!?!?!!?!?!?!?!?!!?

  36. Matthew Saroff

    AOL Drops Usenet?

    The endless September is finally over!

  37. john dunwiddie
    Stop

    F N time 2

    and so they should have 2 with or without force from the authorities if that is what they actualy R . public ownership of images online should be illegal if the images r of teens or young kids . the gov if that is what they r should be liable for all illegal postings of these groups . well thats what i think anyhow .

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