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Why ISPs' "Stand" Against Child Porn Is Actually Not a Stand Against Child Porn 283

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the thinking-of-the-children-means-actually-thinking dept.
TechDirt has an insightful article on the recent push for ISPs to turn off Usenet access under the guise of fighting child pornography. Unfortunately, the "stand against child porn" isn't actually a stand at all, it seems — more like ignoring the issue while trying to snag some headlines and good will. "Taking a stand against child porn wouldn't be overly aggressively blocking access to internet destinations that may or may not have porn (and there's no review over the list to make sure that they're actually objectionable). Taking a stand against child porn would be hunting down those responsible for the child porn and making sure that they're dealt with appropriately... Also, this sets an awful precedent in that the ISPs can point out that it's ok for them to block "objectionable" content where they get to define what's objectionable without any review."
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Why ISPs' "Stand" Against Child Porn Is Actually Not a Stand Against Child Porn

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  • by Reality Master 201 (578873) on Friday July 18, 2008 @04:33PM (#24247419) Journal

    I'm sure no small part of the decision is also to either avoid legal problems form or to give a reacharound to the content producer industry. Lots of warez, mp3, and dvd rips get traded on usenet. Shutting off alt.* puts a dent in that. Temporarily, at least, till everyone moves elsewhere.

    • by Lord Apathy (584315) on Friday July 18, 2008 @04:48PM (#24247635)

      I'm calling Bullshit! ISP shutting down usenet does nothing about anything. Hell, how are they shutting down usenet? Blocking port 119? That is bullshit too.

      Shake the google tree for usenet access and see what falls out. You'll get at least half a dozen dedicated usenet providers alone. Most of the offering unlimited access and SSL connections for around 20 bucks a month. All most every one of them offers SSL connections and connections on ports other than 119 just to get around blocking 119. Hell, the one I use even has port 80 and 25 open for nntp. They use SSL connections just so some dumbasses can't see what your downloading.

      No this is feel good bullshit that won't even put a dent in kiddy porn.

      Thus is Bullshit, I say, Bullshit!

      • by computational super (740265) on Friday July 18, 2008 @04:49PM (#24247645)
        Blocking port 119?

        In the name of protecting the children? Just watch.

        • by fyngyrz (762201) * on Friday July 18, 2008 @05:00PM (#24247795) Homepage Journal

          C'mon mods. Parent put the finger right on it. Just because it's short doesn't mean it isn't 100% insightful, informative, *and* interesting.

          You know no one with any power or position is going to take a stand against this; it is the ultimate leverage — and those who stoop low enough to use it know that perfectly well.

          Welcome to the United States of For The Children.

      • I never said it was actually intended to do something productive, just that it's also part of the calculation.

      • by blueg3 (192743) on Friday July 18, 2008 @05:00PM (#24247787)

        It appears all they're doing is not hosting in their local NNTP cache the listed newsgroups. They're not blocking ports, blocking all Usenet access, or ceasing hosting of Usenet.

        Of course this doesn't make it impossible to get CP. But it does reduce the avenues for accessing it. Claiming that is pointless because there's "another way to get it" is like saying there's no sense in locking your door. A sufficiently motivated thief will gain entry.

        • by camperslo (704715)

          It appears all they're doing is not hosting in their local NNTP cache the listed newsgroups.

          Is it just the specific kiddie-nasty groups or all of alt.* or alt.binaries.*?
          Perhaps this is getting pushed by some with an agenda to suppress some other (video/music) content?

          • by techno-vampire (666512) on Friday July 18, 2008 @05:38PM (#24248215) Homepage
            Is it just the specific kiddie-nasty groups or all of alt.* or alt.binaries.*?

            I don't know about any other ISP, but Verizon dropped all but the "Big 8" without warning or explanation about three weeks ago.

          • It is exactly as I had foreseen. The music/video industry is pairing with ISPs to supress content and freedom of speech.

            The next step is to watch the users encrypt everything and not be able to do anything about it. And that's already happening - torrent trackers are allowing https access to them, and thepiratebay is working on an encrypted replacement for the IP protocol.

            Let's see what happens in 5 years. Will governments completely ban end-to-end encryption? How much will human rights organizations do to defend privacy?

            Frankly, I don't know, but the microwave just beeped - the popcorn's ready.

        • by dave562 (969951)
          If all they are doing is refusing to cache the alt. hierarchy then how has that changed? I haven't been on Usenet in a couple of years because it was my experience that with my provider (Verizon), I could get complete feeds. There were always SOME parts of the download missing. When you're trying to get a 60+ part RAR file, even one missing chunk is enough to prevent a successful transfer. I subscribed to SuperNews for a little while, but now I just get everything with bitTorrent. Is Usenet still even
        • by TopSpin (753) * on Friday July 18, 2008 @06:50PM (#24248991) Journal

          It appears all they're doing is not hosting in their local NNTP cache the listed newsgroups

          That's what I've gathered also. Cuomo's (D., NY State AG) people have lists of groups and sites they've identified according to some criteria and those groups and sites will be blocked and dehosted.

          You have to click through link in this Slashdot story and the link in the first TechDirt story to another TechDirt story [techdirt.com] before you discover that specific usenet groups are being targetted. Characterizing this as "turn off Usenet access" is a lie and the referrers, including Slashdot, are lying.

          The related story [ncta.com] linked earlier today by Slashdot makes it clear that the websites being targetted (as opposed to newsgroups) are those actually hosted by the ISPs involved; no "firewall for the children". They are dehosting sites they host, not filtering. Right or wrong this is an enforcement of their existing "acceptable use policies", which Cuomo claims they have neglected.

          The ISPs are being browbeat by a politician that is threatening fines. Don't like it? Vote the Fuck out of office. ISPs aren't at fault here.

          Slashdot editors: I decline to assume the intended level of apoplexy based on your lies. Sorry to disappoint.

      • by Xest (935314)

        That was my understanding too and I thought I'd go see what these newsgroup providers take on it was.

        Quick jump to Giganews and they're actually even taking advantage of it by offering deals to users of all the ISPs who are dropping alt.*

        It's always nice to see sensible companies cashing in on the idiocy of others ;)

      • by againjj (1132651) on Friday July 18, 2008 @05:23PM (#24248035)

        The other funny thing is that while the summary cries "Usenet", TFA only mentions Usenet in passing, and the article to which it connects does not mention Usenet at all. That is basically a copy of the same article that was posted here a short while ago which didn't mention Usenet either.

        From TFA:

        All 18 cable companies have agreed to use NCMEC's list of active Web sites identified as containing child pornography, to ensure that no such site is hosted on servers owned or controlled by those companies.

        (emphasis mine)

        Why on earth are people screaming "They are turning of Usenet!"?

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by fo0bar (261207)

        Quoteth Lord Apathy:

        I'm calling Bullshit! ISP shutting down usenet does nothing about anything. Hell, how are they shutting down usenet? Blocking port 119? That is bullshit too. [...] Thus is Bullshit, I say, Bullshit!

        You apparently don't subscribe to your own nickname.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by phorm (591458)

        Newgroups are still a great way for spreading (legal, though often disliked by various governments) information as well. That being said. one thing I've rather missed in linux is finding a good newgroup reader that has SSL capabilities. Anyone know of one?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by CodeBuster (516420)
        So they subpoena the records of all of the subscribers, block the well known servers of the service provider, and have the bank accounts of those providers that are unwilling or unable to cooperate frozen. I am not suggesting that this is what should be done, but rather what may be likely given the crusading nature of state attorney generals these days and particularly the Attorney General of New York, formally Spitzer (who got busted for using high priced hookers) and now Cumo. Indeed, they have been espec
      • by Original Replica (908688) on Friday July 18, 2008 @07:32PM (#24249295) Journal
        No this is feel good bullshit that won't even put a dent in kiddy porn.

        If they actually took actions that put a stop to the majority of the production of kiddie porn, what would legislators use for their debate proof vehicle for over-reaching legislation? Terrorism seems to be loosing steam slowly, and the historic boogie men of homosexuality, communism, and drugs are all kinda trendy now. Without kiddie porn a whole new "evil that must be stopped at all costs" would need to be invented.
      • Part of the reason usenet is still around today is because ISP's were major contributors to the hosting at the time the content industry challenged their existence. This set a court precedent of usenet as a neutral intermediary protected by the DMCA safe harbor provision.

        Unfortunately, the RIAA is trying to kill off [slashdot.org] the independent providers under the MGM V Grokster decision, which, contrary to what these self important USSC justices might think, did fully and completely overturn betamax and threaten the o

    • by Paracelcus (151056) on Friday July 18, 2008 @04:48PM (#24247639) Journal

      Port 119 is not the only port used by premium usenet providers, many provide access via alternate ports.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by MightyMartian (840721)

        I guess if they were really really really really really serious, they could do some packet inspection to weed out all these evil potentially-kiddie-porn-laden NNTP packets (you know what nests of pervs places like alt.fan.tolkien and alt.atheism are). The way I read it, it looks like the few remaining big-name ISPs still running news servers shutting them down while declaring "it's for the children", when in reality, it's probably more for the reason the ISP I worked at finally killed the feed, because onl

    • by LWATCDR (28044) on Friday July 18, 2008 @04:54PM (#24247713) Homepage Journal

      Of course if the shut down usenet would anybody notice?
      I so miss the days when usenet was useful.

    • by Firehed (942385)

      They don't care about that so much as just not wanting to provide you with the bandwidth for which you paid. This is Cheap Bastards Syndrome, not Copyright Police.

    • How can there be 80 posts already, and not one "Death of Usenet! Film at 11."

  • Well DUH (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Joe U (443617) on Friday July 18, 2008 @04:34PM (#24247435) Homepage Journal

    It's a PR job, pretty much everyone reading this knows that already.

    The good news is that it will all eventually backfire and we'll all get a class action check for $1.59.

    • Re:Well DUH (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bigstrat2003 (1058574) * on Friday July 18, 2008 @04:35PM (#24247447)
      Exactly. Going after the predators would require real effort, and that shit is hard.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by mitgib (1156957)

        And let's not forget what ISP really means

        ISP = I Seldom Pay

      • Sure they shut down access to the whole damn tree when all they would have had to do is add a new group:

        alt.chris.hanson

        "Oh no, Chris Hanson!?"

    • by Joe U (443617)

      By the way, if you want to get a few bucks over the $1.59 here's the formula:

      1. Create content - You singing an original song or some software, whatever.
      2. Wait until someone distributes it illegally.
      3. Demand that ISPs use their shiny new content filtering to remove it, since they have that ability to block CP, they can block this. (They won't, you're too small)
      4. Sue.
      5. Profit.
      6. Repeat.

      There are several variations you can use for this, all of which will generate a settlement check.

  • They are "making a stand" against CP? CP gives them an erection? By the powers vested in me by badly-dressed dole-scroungers waving ungrammatical placards I find them guilty of being paedOphiles. [youtube.com]
  • Or any slashdotter's (now that doesnt as good as it did when I thought about it), but yeah, WE thought so: its just for nothing.

    And thats GOOD as well. What on earth can the ISP's do against child porn, other than snooping arround in real time at everything all users do?

    This guys think that the net fosters child porn. What, didnt they see that greek pottery from a gazilion years ago?

    • What on earth can the ISP's do against child porn, other than snooping around in real time at everything all users do?

      Right -- that should be the government's job.....

  • Dual-edged sword (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Psmylie (169236) * on Friday July 18, 2008 @04:39PM (#24247503) Homepage
    Also, this sets an awful precedent in that the ISPs can point out that it's ok for them to block "objectionable" content where they get to define what's objectionable without any review."

    I would think the ISPs would be more concerned with the perception that they are somehow responsible for policing for this kind of content. Once you open the door to that kind of expectation, how can you close it again?

    • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Friday July 18, 2008 @05:04PM (#24247821)
      That's why they started with child pornography. As TFA states, who can protest anything that appears to be a blow in the fight against child pornography? Anyone who protests this move will be easily labeled as either being naïvely soft on child porn, or as being some sort of pedophile themselves.

      The next step? A "family friendly" ISP, that blocks all pornography all together. Then ISPs that block websites or forums where people discuss controversial topics like drug use. All in the name of being "family friendly," and at each step, pointing to the previous step when someone questions it ("Why are you blocking http://www.erowid.org/ [erowid.org] ?" "Well, we block objectionable content all the time, such as pornography, because we are family friend.").
  • by ndnspongebob (942859) on Friday July 18, 2008 @04:40PM (#24247505)
    From my point of view, anytime any institution mentions child porn, they are actually using that as a cover to gain control. Since when did everyone become so altruistic and when has child porn become a rampant problem? The FBI has been using this line also but only to gain control over the networks for other purposes. The ISPs will be the same in which case, it is the first blow against net neutrality for them. It is also a clever trick since no one would be against a plan to go against child porn. A bit of a political move in my eyes.
    • by g0bshiTe (596213)
      Freedom is slavery. Give over your rights.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Bryansix (761547)
      Exactly! I'd like to see actual statistics about how much child porn is produced in a year. And I'm not talking about pictures of kids taking a bath. Nudity isn't illegal. It's the explicit sex acts involving children that are what compose "child porn". Where are the real statistics on that?!
      • by Xemu (50595)

        I'd like to see actual statistics about how much child porn is produced in a year. And I'm not talking about pictures of kids taking a bath. Nudity isn't illegal. It's the explicit sex acts involving children that are what compose "child porn". Where are the real statistics on that?!

        Here: http://www.unicef.org/magic/media/documents/beyond_all_tolerance.pdf [unicef.org]

        • by Xemu (50595)

          I'd like to see actual statistics about how much child porn is produced in a year. And I'm not talking about pictures of kids taking a bath. Nudity isn't illegal. It's the explicit sex acts involving children that are what compose "child porn". Where are the real statistics on that?!

          Here: http://www.unicef.org/magic/media/documents/beyond_all_tolerance.pdf [unicef.org]

          A quote:

          The little research being done (principally at University College Cork in Ireland
          within the COPINE project supervised by Professor Max Taylor) sho

    • Fuck Godwin (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 18, 2008 @04:58PM (#24247771)

      Until we read history and REALIZE that this is a fundamental fault in a media-accessible society, we'll never learn.

      "The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people. As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation." --Adolph Hitler

      • by Junta (36770) on Friday July 18, 2008 @07:28PM (#24249279)

        But don't use misleading attributions. The first sentence is Hitler, from Mein Kampf. It was speaking on the view that the duty of the people is to produce healthy children and not burden society with the support of children. Not to protect the children, but to have useful children. A disturbing sentiment when considering how extreme Hitler took things like this, but orthogonal to this discussion.

        Rabbi Daniel Lapin is the person who actually wrote that quote, putting the totalitarian twist on it to link it to an excuse to curtail liberty. It's insightful, but not directly linked to Hitler's strategy for totalitarianism. He wasn't nearly so subtle as that.

    • Exaclty my thinking.. and on a curious note, what does the FBI do when some person hires the use of a spambot network to send out craploads of image spam with actual pictures attached? Arrest everyone that got the Image? Or just shut down all email? I have a feeling it would pass through most spam filters, since if the message is over a certain size, it is statistically less likely to be spam...

  • 1. there really IS child porn all over alt.binaries.erotica. completely mislabeled and miscategorized

    2. furthermore, nntp is a dying protocol. there is no way they could get away with this with smtp or hhtp. but to the average joe, nntp is utterly obscure

    conclusion: they are going to get away with it, and they are going to put a stake through the heart of nntp

    • by fatduck (961824) * on Friday July 18, 2008 @04:43PM (#24247567)
      seriously people need to tag their child porn appropriately
    • by Applekid (993327)

      nntp is a dying protocol.

      I'll admit I haven't generated any nntp traffic in about a decade. But, are the ISPs actually blocking nntp traffic or are they just taking this an excuse to turn off their newsgroup servers and relays, fire the maintenance people, and buy some ivory backscratchers with the savings?

    • by nurb432 (527695)

      To be fair, people drive to the back-alley porn and buy illegal pornography ( or other things ).

      So i guess we should start banning car use on back alleys?

    • Good grief, my favorite hangout on Usenet averages about three or four hundred messages a day (I know, I don't get much of a chance to post on weekends, and when I look on Monday, there's often seven hundred new messages). A lot of the web forums out there would give their left nut for that amount of traffic.

      It's true that there are lots of vacant and abandoned groups, but then again, there were plenty of those back in the early 1990s when I first started posting to Usenet. A lot of the vanity groups croa

    • by againjj (1132651) on Friday July 18, 2008 @05:12PM (#24247925)

      there is no way they could get away with this with smtp or hhtp.

      Ah, yes, the Hyper-Hoopla Transfer Protocol!

    • by mikael (484)

      furthermore, nntp is a dying protocol.

      Which is why it would be attractive to anyone dealing with illegal images. It's like having underground tunnels that nobody rarely visits, except to those knowing where the entrances leading to the surface are.

  • To what end will ISPs stop blocking things that could be used legitimately? I mean, some block or throttle P2P traffic because their infrastructure is out of touch with the 21st century and as a kowtow to the **AA. Now they're blocking newsgroups which have more uses than just porn. What next? Are they going to start blocking all porn sites in general just because it's impossible to verify that all sites aren't disseminating smut of an illegal nature?

    • by blueg3 (192743)

      And according to the FCC, they're not allowed to throttle P2P traffic.

      They're only blocking enumerated newsgroups that are primarily used for trading CP, not blocking all access to newsgroups. Further, the only blocking of newsgroups they're doing is restricting what newsgroups they are hosting locally.

      Likewise, the only action they're taking against websites is removing sites with CP (illegal content that is against their terms of service, which they're well within their rights to remove) that are hosted o

  • 10 Years Gone (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cytlid (95255) on Friday July 18, 2008 @04:45PM (#24247591)

    I worked for an ISP from 2001-2006 (Dreamscape Online) who had their POP raided in 1998 from then-AG Steve Vacco (he was running for re-election if I remember correctly).

    Here's a nice writeup on it: http://www.theharbinger.org/xvii/990119/blair.html [theharbinger.org]

    In 1998 I heard about this in the news, and was annoyed at the common man's lack of knowledge about technology. By the time I worked there the ISP outsourced it's newsgroup servers.

    I love the attorney's quote at the end of the article. How people should go after the originators and not the ISP's.

    I was very glad to have worked at a place which seemed to have set a precedent. But did it really? I mean, here we are 10 years later, and some average Joe sixpacks (including AG's) still have no clue as how to fix social issues.

    Because that's what they are. They're social issues not technical issues. Hell, the internet connection is just the carrier. We need to get ISP's out of the service (and content) business _NOW_.

    Somehow I feel like this is bureaucratic BS ... like my local municipality saying they're going to take care of pot holes, only to come examine and scrutinize my driveway ... and patting themselves on the back for the excellent job they're performing.

    I want to see this stuff wiped out as much as anyone else. But for some reason they're focusing their efforts at the wrong ends of the internet.

  • by l0ungeb0y (442022)

    Can you blame them? With this they get press releases and can claim that they are doing SOMETHING, whatever that something might be against child porn the next time the US AG gets a bug up his ass about child porn online.

    • by ricebowl (999467)

      Can you blame them? With this they get press releases and can claim that they are doing SOMETHING, whatever that something might be against child porn the next time the US AG gets a bug up his ass about child porn online.

      Blame them? Yes. I can understand why they're doing it, but I don't like the direction it takes the ISPs; censorship is always bad. I don't wish to state the obvious but, hey why not?, I'm an adult. I can vote, I can certainly decide whether or not I find something offensive.

      And, if that 's

  • Definition of ISP (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HaeMaker (221642) on Friday July 18, 2008 @04:47PM (#24247617) Homepage

    This is why we need a clear definition of "ISP" and government agency to enforce it.

    If we define ISP as:

    -> Access to the internet which is unfiltered* and unfettered
    -> Hosting of DNS, NNTP, SMTP**, HTTP (hosted page for users), POP3 and IMAP

    Anything that does not meet this criteria can not be called an "ISP" and can not offer for sale "Internet Access". Selling service that is less than the above yet calling themselves an "ISP" or selling "Internet Access" is "false advertising". FTC is probably the proper agency to enforce, or perhaps state agencies.

    *or the ability to turn the filter off on your own. I have this with my ISP, they block 25/tcp by default, but I run my own mail server so I disable it. Blocking 25/tcp is good for the internet as a whole, but for certain users, it should be turned off.

    **mail forwarding for those who do not run their own server.

  • Well, they are a company and not a government so really arent bound by the rules of 'free speech' or 'censorship'. "review" consists of their customers looking elsewhere for service.

    Too bad many have a virtual lock in their market area.

  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Friday July 18, 2008 @04:50PM (#24247661) Homepage

    And in further news, responding to charges that some escort services provide illegal services, the announced that effective today will carry only the "big 25" Yellow Pages sections: A through D and F through Z.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RobBebop (947356)
      And what happens when escorts start calling their business model "fuck friends"? Will that wash away the "f" section too?
  • by gujo-odori (473191) on Friday July 18, 2008 @04:53PM (#24247689)

    My ISP already doesn't offer Usenet, so I have the cheapest account Supernews offers. If ISPs turn off Usenet, they'll just drive more business to Supernews and other NNTP services. As a former ISP sysadmin, I suspect that's actually their real plan. Running a decent news server takes quite a bit of bandwidth and disk space (at least if you carry binary newsgroups).

    So, what's an ISP to do? Hmmm. Drop NNTP service. Saves you money and disk space. Claim it's to fight CP. Makes you look good to some people who don't know the real story. Customers who want Usenet then sign up with an NNTP service. They go over their bandwidth caps and you either then throttle them down or charge them extra bandwidth charges. They may pay, they may go elswhere. Either way, you've solved a few business problems for yourself, all the while being able to claim it's because you're thinking of the children.

    Don't get me wrong about CP - I'm a dad, and I not only think child pornographers should be taken out and shot, I'd be happy to shoot them myself - but this just isn't going to do anything to control, contain, or prevent CP>

  • >> "Unfortunately, the 'stand against child porn' isn't actually a stand at all, it seems more like ignoring the issue while trying to snag some headlines and good will"

    Isn't this EVERY headline and corporate stance?  Isn't this every company that "celebrates Black History Month!"?
  • Most ISPs only ever provided a watered down version of Usenet anyway. In which retention was limited in many cases to less then a week and in which bandwidth on file downloads was much less then your line speed. I know first hand that this was the case with Comcast and Verizion FIOS. The reality is that Usenet was ever only good from pay Usenet services before this and it will continue to be the case after this.

    • Apparently not just the ISPs' version of Usenet is watered down. I just signed up with newsdemon.com, and there is absolutely NO alt.erotica.* newsgroups. Is this normal for third-party NNTP providers?

  • I think hate speech is protected and all other kinds of censorship is wrong, but I have to agree here. There can be no artistic, social or any other benefit from this industry. I've known sexual assault victims (from when they were children), and it really messes with their heads. It completely screws them over in terms of how they see themselves, their place and reality in general.

    I'm not worried about people getting frustrated and searching out real victims. I think there is a line between fantasy and re

    • by dave562 (969951)
      I do have to ask though -- I have social worker friends, and they are telling me that sex between 12-year olds is increasingly common.

      When you see behavior like that it is usually the children modelling their adult role models. In this day and age of "babies having babies", it isn't unusual for young children to see mom and the man of the week doing "adult" things with each other.

  • neutral or not? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dan667 (564390) on Friday July 18, 2008 @04:57PM (#24247749)
    ISP's should not be able to have it both ways. Either they are providing a service and not responsible for what is sent across their networks or they are responsible and everyone should be able to sue them. I would pick option 1, but what do I know. And if they are going to do stuff like this in the name of child pornography, why are the freeways still open? They obviously facilitate actual child abuse so why not just nip it in the bud and close the freeways? Think of the children!
  • ISPs banning Usenet to get rid of child porn is like cities banning Wal*Mart to get rid of lead paint from China. Or more like banning Wal*Mart, Target and Pizza Hut to get rid of Barney-themed products from China that have lead paint.
  • Yeah right ... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jon3k (691256) on Friday July 18, 2008 @05:02PM (#24247815)
    And it's even more about reducing their bandwidth costs than grabbing headlines. alt.* probably accounts for 99% of nntp traffic which these providers will now reduce to zero.
  • by Kazrath (822492) on Friday July 18, 2008 @05:07PM (#24247859)

    Have you had a chance to read the new article about Child porn and Cable companies letting a private organization dictate their content?

    Check this out

    http://news.cnet.com/8301-13739_3-9994159-46.html [cnet.com]

    This scares me a hell of a lot more than usenet. Usenet is basically used by the more "in" technical crowd.

    Standard websites and family photos of bathing children etc have in the past been called Child Porn when parents try to develop harmless photos. This went away for a long time because of the digital age... Now these buggers will be able to repeat the same crap with more innocent photo's against parents who are not doing anything wrong.

    There is real child porn out there.. I get that.. and kids should be protected... protect the children ... yata yata...

    But giving an unsupervised private organization complete control over the vast majority of US web space content is pretty scary stuff.

    • Welcome to Salem (Score:3, Informative)

      by Reziac (43301) *
      We seem to be rapidly returning to a society where across the board, a mere accusation is sufficient to determine guilt, and where anyone can scream "WITCH!" and the law will make it stick, valid or not.

      It's not just CP and ISPs and DCMA either. Here in California, it's the proposed AB1634, which in its new incarnation allows anyone to accuse without merit, and the accusation WILL be taken as proof of guilt, with absolutely no recourse and no protection from the Bill of Rights. That it happens to target p

  • by spagthorpe (111133) on Friday July 18, 2008 @05:07PM (#24247865)

    to get CP, then I'm sure it will become reasonable to block all P2P sites. The more I hear about this, the more I think it has nothing to do with CP, but was dreamed up in RIAA/MPAA backrooms.

    What great way to get bully everyone over to your side. Exploit a topic that caries such a stigma with it, that nobody will dare fight it, since they are obviously encouraging CP.

  • uh...review? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by buddyglass (925859) on Friday July 18, 2008 @05:09PM (#24247889)

    this sets an awful precedent in that the ISPs can point out that it's ok for them to block "objectionable" content where they get to define what's objectionable without any review.

    Why would they need review? These are private entities. As long as they don't violate whatever contracts they have with their customers, they're free to block whatever they want. If you don't appreciate that a particular ISP blocks particular content, then don't become a customer of that ISP.

  • Can we please just outlaw the internet? The **AA will eventually say every thing on the internet is for child porn.

    What makes usenet different than any other internet technology when it comes to child porn? Wow, its a different way to shift bits around. Until they can stop all forms of bit transmission, there will be porn....

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Mesa MIke (1193721)

      > Until they eliminate Humans from the Earth, there will be porn....

      There, fixed it for ya.

  • by zmollusc (763634) on Friday July 18, 2008 @05:29PM (#24248093)

    1. Sell 'unlimited broadband at super speeds'
    2. Throttle downloads
    3. Block usnet
    4. ???
    5. Increased Profit!!

    Oooh, I thought of a beer analogy.

    1. Sell 'as much beer as you can drink'
    2. Limit to 3 pints per hour
    3. Water down beer
    4. ???
    5. Increased Profit!!

  • Either they rent it from others or they are maintaining their own servers. Both cost them money. They now have a great excuse to dropt this, keep the money and need nothing to for the customers, because "it's the law".

    Each and every CEO will get a hardon if they can stop providing a service that costs them money and not held responsible for it.

  • by Tumbleweed (3706) * on Friday July 18, 2008 @05:50PM (#24248343)

    If they really wanted to catch pedophiles, they'd open everything up and track the hell out of who is downloading the child porn, then go arrest them. This ain't that, so that ain't what this is.

    I think it's pretty obvious this is about trying to stem the tide of piracy. Most people downloading stuff from Usenet are likely not using a pay service, but the one included with their net access. Thus, shutting down access to the alt.* groups at the ISP level will block *most* of that kind of activity (along with all the legal stuff, too, of course).

    From the same people who brought you the "Patriot" Act. If it's in the name, that ain't the game. :)

  • by Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) on Friday July 18, 2008 @06:56PM (#24249041)

    I made this point in a comment posted to the other story about ISP's blocking newsgroups due to child porn.

    The truth is... Its just a trojan horse. Its not at all the real cause. Its a bandwidth issue, and piracy issue. It has nothing to do with protecting children.

    Most people are not attracted to children. This may be a shock to the news media, but most adults are attracted to each others sexual appetite and physical appearance. There is nothing attractive about having sex with a child. Its a demented psychological issue that has nothing to do with the newsgroups.

    Most people in the newsgroups are trading "of legal age" porn, movies, music, software, emulation roms, linux distros, windows betas, shareware, personal photos, personal videos, knowledge, programming code, user made content for games etc.

    Most people are not jacking to children in the newsgroups and we all know this.

    To assume that any given network avenue is predominantly child porn oriented is ridiculous when child porn is a very very small minority of civilization. Most adults lust after other adults. Until that is proven otherwise... and i doubt it ever will.... Then how in the hell can we allow this bullshit "anti child porn" movement conquer the newsgroups.

    This is a political and economic power play for retaking bandwidth and controlling and eliminating a popular user based distribution system, and communications "forum".

    Simply ask this... How much newsgroupd bandwidth is due to child pornography? Then compare it to the amount of bandwidth used by "of legal age" pornography.... and add in all of the .flac, .mp3, .warez, .movies, .divx, .xvid, .mkv, linux, newsgroups.

    Child porn is a unmeasurable minute fraction of newsgroup traffic. The majority of it, is in other material, such as the above mentioned.

    These companies dont like it, and they're taking a page from the politicians who for years said "Its for the good of our children", as an excuse to destroy and eliminate personal freedoms, and gain politcal power etc. After all, who could refuse the idea of helping children!?... Which if you think about it.. supports my point that most people arent out to fuck children. They never were.

    Child pornography is real, molestation is real... but that does not give these corporations and law makers the right, or power to destory everything they deem a threat, under the guise of "its for the safety of our children"... or "child porn".

    Its all bullshit, and they will do what they want. But at least we should know the truth of the issue, so we can hate the appropriate government officials and companies for lieing to us like we're stupid.

  • Are you folks nuts? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cdrguru (88047) on Friday July 18, 2008 @07:04PM (#24249109) Homepage

    First off, how does someone "track" the actions of a child-porn downloader? By IP address, you say? Well, ask NewYorkCountryLawyer about how much value there is to an IP address and how much proof there is that an IP address equals a person. So I doubt very much if you can do any meaningful "tracking".

    Next would be the publishers. Did you know that it is possible to have a web site that hosts child porn? A web site that is absolutely protected against anyone finding out who the actual "owner" might be. A web site that protects the anonyminity of the "publisher" completely. Its very simple. It might be hard to do in the credit-card happy US but outside of the US it is perfectly legal to use cash. And to do so anonymously. And post any objectionable content you want. Would you want it any other way?

    So you say that such illegal material should be prohibited. What about torrent trackers for copyright movies? How about links to bomb-making instructions? Abortion doctors home addresses? How about instructions for making sarin or VX gas? Where exactly do you draw the line for "objectionable" materials? And where do you require people to give up their anonymity?

    Sorry, this is the Internet we're talking about. If you aren't incredibly stupid, it is almost impossible to track a "downloader" and connect up the actions that take place on an ISP account with an actual individual. Fortunately, most criminals are really incredibly stupid. So they brag about their exploits and what they have done - almost always to the wrong people. Which then gets them convicted, sued and whatnot.

    How are you going to stop child porn really? You aren't going to stop it by making it illegal - there is way, way too much money in it. You aren't going to be able to track it down on the Internet because of the basic protections that web hosting providers and registrars are more than happy to provide to their customers. You aren't going to track downloaders because you will find grandmothers, 9 year old girls and dead people getting hauled into court - such are the perils of believing an IP address means anything at all.

    Yes, child porn is a problem that involves at least 50% of all computer forensic technicians today and probably 30-50% of all law enforcement and prosecuters today. But no, I seriously doubt you are going to stop it any time soon. Millions of dollars change hands on a weekly basis because of child porn. Might as well just license it and tax it like drugs.

  • by Reziac (43301) * on Friday July 18, 2008 @07:34PM (#24249315) Homepage Journal

    Someone commented thusly following TFA:

    ======
    1) Usenet is not the problem by anonymous coward on Jul 18th, 2008 @ 10:45am

    I always suspected that child pornography isn't nearly as invasive as people say it is, and now I know for sure that's the case.

    I have been involved in Usenet for 10 years, and have at times decoded the entire newsfeed, including all of the alt.pictures.erotica groups. There is no child porn there. Even on the newsgroups that supposedly feature it, there is a very small amount, but most is just ads for porn sites and random legal porn that people are cross-posting.

    In truth, Usenet is one of the worst places to put illegal images. There is zero privacy, there is no private clubs where you can make sure your illegal activities are viewed by only a few. And there is little anonymity, because almost all ISPs keep logs of Usenet posting.

    One wonders if the anti-piracy people are really behind this somehow. Piracy, unlike child pornography, is rampant on Usenet.
    =========

  • by wiredlogic (135348) on Friday July 18, 2008 @07:53PM (#24249459)

    The ISPs are just using the child porn angle as an excuse to get rid of supporting a service they see used by only a small fraction of their user base.

    However, it is worth looking at the Usenet problem from the ISPs perspective. Unlike most internet services, Usenet is decentralized and requires mass distribution of the articles traversing the network. This represents a significant storage and bandwidth burden for the ISPs if they are to maintain a reasonable time span of articles. It also isn't entirely fair to frame this proposal as "blocking" in the same sense as the efforts to block P2P traffic and the like. Supporting Usenet incurs real costs for the ISPs and it has always been their perogative to choose what groups they want to carry on their servers. A much better solution to the storage problem is to just drop alt.binaries.* wholesale. The heyday of legitimate Usenet porn is long gone and I can't believe there is much remaining legitimate non-porn activity that hasn't moved to the web. Is anyone really going to cry over the loss of alt.binaries.pictures.pets when they can get their fix at places like kittenwar?

The test of intelligent tinkering is to save all the parts. -- Aldo Leopold

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