Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Meet the newest Internet Governance Body

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children will now determine what we can and can't access on the Internet, thanks to Verizon, Sprint, Time Warner Cable and New York Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo. [link to New York Times article]

Of course, if we pay, we can evade the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's filters, the New York Times points out.

Nowhere in the Times' article does the problem of false alarms -- the blocking of Web sites that have nothing to do with Missing and Exploited Children -- come up. Nor does the problem of chilling effects. Nor does the problem of the privatization of governance.

According to the LA Times, France, Britain, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Canada and New Zealand already "have implemented similar measures." And from my travels, I know that Israel and Japan are considering national censorship programs.

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.

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What's more, anyone wanting to opt out of this system is likely to have their petition summed up as "yes, I want access to child porn", which isn't the point at all.
The NYT coverage on this issue is about as good as their coverage leading up to the Iraq invasion...

Read Helen Huntley's story in the St. Petersburg TimesMoves target Internet child porn” (11 Jun). Read it carefully. And then reread it for the stuff between the lines.

The third graph:

“‘We are in effect starting a technological arms race that we've got to have the will and the resolve to see through,’ said Bill Stewart, deputy chief of staff for Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum. ‘Once we tackle U.S. Internet service providers, this traffic will move to another venue.’”

Note that the speaker doesn't work for the NY OAG. Yet he uses the pronoun "we". You should infer that this is a multi-state operation, and then take a guess at any federal role.

Next, note that Time Warner is dropping all Usenet service.

Read all the way to the bottom sentence: “Cuomo's office said it is continuing its inquiry, looking at other Internet service providers.”

They're going to war, and Usenet is one big target.
A slashdot response shows MediaDefender, the RIAA's personal stash of starving pitbulls, is behind this new campaign.
This is what happens when you let the camel's nose in the tent by lobbying for Internet regulation.

The same legislation and regulation that "Free" Press (note the quotes; they actually are pro-regulation) and other inside-the-Beltway lobbyists and lawyers are advocating in the name of "network neutrality" will be used to censor things that politicians do not like. And to allow snooping of all kinds on citizens.

Which is highly ironic, because the practices which these groups are condemning -- e.g. throttling of bandwidth hogs -- actually protect free speech by preserving the integrity of the Net.

We need to fight ALL regulation of not only Internet content but of ISPs' pricing structures and terms of service. The only regulation or legislation we need is that which specifically prohibits anticompetitive business practices.
The Slashdot comment doesn't say that at all. But it does suggest that the whole business is a serious blow against the current 'safe harbor' mode of thinking where ISP's are not responsible for what's going thru their pipes.

I am hoping that David is right, but with a positive result. Cuomo's move will eventually turn out to have been a shot in the arm for the cause of net neutrality.

California chimes in...

Yesterday, California's Governator issued a joint press release, Governor Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Brown Call on Internet Service Providers to Block Child Porn Access:

“Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today called upon California's Internet service providers to follow the lead of Verizon, Time Warner Cable and Sprint by ‘removing child pornography from existing servers and blocking channels’ that disseminate the illegal material.


“Governor Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Brown said other Internet service providers should follow these companies' lead by ridding their own servers of child pornography and preventing access to illegal content through newsgroups.”

(Emphasis added.)

Meanwhile, in 'froups from alt.sewing to austin.internet and others, individual posters have been making plans to migrate from Time Warner and Verizon.

There's some discussion about moving alt.books.m-lackey to the rec hierarchy (in the big 8), and other groups may also be planning to migrate.

While there's some outrage, there's an undertone of powerlessness. Most affected posters appear either resigned to changing news providers or plan to quit Usenet altogether.

Nowhere yet does there seem to be any awareness that this is more than the isolated act of one deranged New York politician. We'll see what happens when the news about the Governator's press release spreads.


The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) “is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization” “established by Congress in 1984.” According to its latest published annual report, the NCMEC receives the bulk of its funding from congressional appropriations. For the calendar year ending December 31, 2006, the NCMEC's “unrestricted” revenue from federal funds amounted to about $36 million (p.31 / p.33 in PDF). These federal funds are budgeted and administered through the Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Protection.

On June 3, 2008, Mr. Bush signed the “Protecting Our Children Comes First Act of 2007” (Public Law 110-240). This act amends 42 U.S.C. § 5773, and increases the authorized funding for the NCMEC for FY 2008 to $40 million.

Due to its congressional establishment and federal funding, the NCMEC must be considered a creature of the federal government.

A censorship scheme where the NCMEC
designates legally banned websites and/or newsgroups appears contrary to the First Amendment. The scheme must be evaluated in light of Bantam Books v Sullivan, 372 U.S. 58 (1963).

I appreciate your info and my personal interest begins thus:
I have enjoyed adult entertainment for years however I want nothing to do with child porn or exploitation of anyone sexually or otherwise.
I have for some time enjoyed the various adult internet sites provided by those seeking my membership. I do get concerned at some of the redirects to other web sites I get. I can start out pursuing a particular legal interest, which sometimes includes those teen sites, yet some of those girls look pretty darn young. Perhaps it’s because as I grow older I tend to think even 20 year olds (or older) I know personally look like teens.
Some of these sites declare their models are 18 other sites don't. Some of the sites with the age stated as 18 have apparent legal teens looking like illegal ones, you know the pig-tail types, innocent poses and dress, etc; it is really hard to tell. Though I don't want to be affiliated in any way with the exploitation of underage persons or those not truly compliant I do enjoy perusing around the net.
I in view of your eye opening article and our lawful 1st Amendment (not to mention the Fourth) to your knowledge , are there some private sector filters that are better than others that can protect me as Joe Citizen from blundering into illegal sites or contents? It seems the burden is placed on me to guess the age of particular postings if the ISP is not aware of their own content.
Meet the other new Internet governance bodies: Free Press. Public Knowledge. Vuze. BitTorrent, Inc. None of them technically knowledgeable but all wanting control. They want your "freedom to connect" to be on their terms. Oh, and don't worry if their regulations bankrupt all of the competitive ISPs and leave a duopoly.... We're safer in the hands of the telephone and cable companies, right?
> I wish the carriers would stay the &^%$ out of content.

The carriers only care because of the danger of litigation/breaking the law. It's the politicians who won't leave well enough alone.
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