Two more Internet Service Providers have agreed to cut off access to Usenet as a result of New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s crusade to eliminate child pornography once and for all. AT&T and AOL now no longer carry the alt.* hierarchy, something that the New York politician is trumpeting as nothing short of peace in our time. To the right is Mr. Cuomo for you non-New Yorkers who may know know what he looks like.
Additionally, Cuomo has launched a Web site promoting his success; that the title of the site is “Press Releases“ should be a clear indicator that the man is just as concerned with getting “good press” as he is making any real difference in the fight against child porn.
The site even has form letter that it encourages New Yorkers to send to their ISP asking them to help stop child porn. You know, as if carrying the nearly 30-year-old Usenet service is tantamount to running some sort of illegal sex slave ring.
What’s most troubling is that child porn is pretty much the only crime that’s universally condemned—it’s not like “big deal, I download a movie off The Pirate Bay.” It wouldn’t be too hard for someone to accuse you of being “soft” on child porn because you’re trying to argue that blocking Usenet access, as provided by ISPs, makes no sense, since anyone hell bent on downloading it can get Usenet access from any number of different places at the drop of a hat. That, and never mind that we’d have to ban the Web as a whole because Lord knows there’s nastiness on there, too.
At the same time, ISPs probably know that such a small percentage of their subscribers can even pronounce Usenet, let alone how to configure a news reader to download binaries, so that blocking access isn’t too big a deal. It certainly beats having Cuomo & Co. call you “soft” on child porn, right?
All that being said, these ISPs sometimes do own the servers where all these alleged files are stored, so there would, theoretically, be some sort of liability there.
Now let’s ban access to HTTP, FTP, BitTorrent and every other protocol since untold amounts of undesirable content flows through them every day!
Is there a politician in this country who understands how technology works, and isn’t looking to further his or her own ends by exploiting the public’s lack of knowledge? Thought not.