Caves to demands that it “protect its customers from child pornography” even though discontinuing free service will do little to fight the problem since pedophiles will simply switch to third party premium Usenet services.
Thanks to pressure from NY Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo, AT&T will soon join ISPs Verizon, Time Warner Cable, and Sprint in eliminating free Usenet access, specifically to the alt.bin and alt.bain newsgroup hierarchies that provide actual data files, in order fight child pornography.
“The pervasiveness of child pornography on the Internet is horrific and it needs to be stopped,” said Attorney General Cuomo in a press release from last year following the agreement. “We are attacking this problem by working with Internet Service Providers to ensure they do not play host to this immoral business. I commend the companies that have stepped up today to embrace a new standard of responsibility, which should serve as a model for the entire industry.”
This new “model” begins next Wednesday, July 15th, for AT&T and means Usenet users will have to begin seeking an alternative if they want to continue downloading actual content.
“Please note that on or around July 15, 2009, AT&T will no longer be offering access to the Usenet Netnews service,” reads a post on AT&T’s Usenet site. “If you wish to continue reading Usenet newsgroups, access is available through third-party vendors.”
That last part reiterates the idiocy of AG Cuomo’s efforts. All he’s really doing is forcing people to purchase 3rd party premium Usenet services like Giganews. The creeps who traffic child porn will just pony up the $3 to $30 bucks a month and go on with their lives, resulting in a probable net zero effect on the trafficking of child porn. The lack of free child porn certainly won’t deter them, and it’s pretty disheartening to learn an educated man like AG Cuomo thinks it will.
“AT&T takes its obligation to protect its customers from child pornography very seriously,” adds AT&T in a message on its Usenet’s “system status” page. “We’re working with public officials and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in the effort to help prevent the distribution of this harmful and illegal content.”
It really had to begin discontinuing free Usenet access to alt.bin and alt.bain because it couldn’t effectively filter child porn. After AG Cuomo uncovered “88 different Newsgroups that contained a total of 11,390 sexually lewd photos featuring prepubescent children, and in some cases photos of children being raped and sexual activity involving animals” the writing was on the wall.
“While we will continue to provide access to newsgroups as part of our Internet Service Offerings, we will no longer include alt.bin nor alt.bain hierarchies because of the possibility of child pornography in those particular groups and the difficulty in ensuring that no child porn reappears in them.”
NEED AN ALTERNATIVE USENET PROVIDER?
The one preferred by most is Giganews, myself included, for it has more data, or “binary retention” (365), available than any other Usenet provider. It even boasts that Usenet members upload more than 5TB of new discussions and content on a daily basis.