back to article New York threatens Comcast with anti-porn suit

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has threatened Comcast with legal action if it doesn't fall in line with his quixotic campaign against online child pornography. And the American ISP is set to do exactly what he wants. Over the past several weeks, Cuomo strong-armed five stateside ISPs into signing his very own anti- …


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  1. heystoopid
    Thumb Down


    It is so obvious he is after Eliot's old job including the perks along with everything else that he had too before he was evicted , atypical of the double standards all yanker self wanking wowser politicians suffer from in the land of the paranoid and unfree and the rather nice comfortable attachments or aides that come with the job !

  2. Pooper Scooper

    Dear Comcast

    Grow some balls. If you don't know what those look like, search through your newsgroups.

  3. Geoffrey Summerhayes


    The only problem with free speech is that you get what you pay for.

  4. StopthePropaganda

    so why is it then..

    that many ISP's have killed not just the "suspect" binaries but ALL binaries newsgroups? Every single one, whether or not it may have possibly contained illegal pr0n or not.

    I guess that's the way Democrats want it. If 1/10 of 1% commit a crime with a gun, ban all guns. if the same proportion of illegal pr0n is out there on binaries then ban them all!

    But, if 10% of a given racial or immigration status group is committing crimes, don't touch those because that would cut down on the amount of thugs supporting these politicians..

  5. IR

    Legal action?

    So have they broken any laws?

  6. ZM


    Makes me sick, that these companies will just roll over like this. \:

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ IR

    Maybe not at first glance, but when gov lawyers (specifically head honcho politician lawyers) NEED you to do something, either the requisite laws are "found" or if absolutely necessary, they are created (requires a bit more political finagling).

  8. Vendicar Decarian

    More AmeriKKKan "Freedom"

    Binary newsgroups are nothing more than wide scale intellecual theft.

    Remember information has an owner, and if you illegally posess it, you have committed a crime agains that owner.

    It's the AmeriKKKan way.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I can't get worked up about usenet being switched off.

  10. Alan W. Rateliff, II
    Paris Hilton

    Cuomo is an idiot

    Period. This "carpet bombing" of the Internet is not how to handle the problem of child porn. He is treating child porn like roaches in a house: destroy a wall, the roaches move, but nuke the house and the roaches are gone. It does not work that way.

    This is the only time I will ever defend ComCast. At least until it signs on to the plan. The plan is crap, ads to the administrative overhead and costs of the service, has the potential to expand into privacy invasions, and will ultimately serve to do very little if anything to actually stop child pornography on the Internet.

    And the crusade by AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint to kill off all alt-dots? Well, that also eliminates a slew of religious newsgroups and groups of various legal and legitimate interests. Good job.

    Paris, because she knows you cannot stop sex online.

  11. Dave Bell

    Useful excuse.

    It's my understanding that an ISP's news server is expensive to run and used by few customers. Most of the cost in disk space and bandwidth comes from binaries newsgroups.

    This has been a useful excuse to shut down something which doesn't make money.

    I'm rather glad the news server I use doesn't carry binaries. Paying to access a news server which supplies porn, and which appears to encourage copyright piracy, could be Operation Ore all over again. And we have the ill-defined extreme porn to illegally possess.

  12. Brandon

    Kiddie porn is bad, M'kay?

    So child pornography is bad. That's pretty unequivocal. But, the illogical assumption by the all-knowing, and all-powerful New York Attorney General is this: Child porn is bad, therefore anything we do with the intention to stop it must be good.

    This is the same flaw Hitler made. Protecting the German people is a good thing... but killing Jews with the intention of protecting the German people is genocide. One of my mentors used to say, "The path to hell is paved with good intentions," and here lies a perfect example. Let's all forgo our right to privacy and free speech so some politician with undoubtedly good intentions and a career to think about can get some publicity and maintain his campaign support.

    Aliens, because they're so smart, they figured out you can make policies that are good for the public while not trampling on the individuals' rights...

  13. J


    Shoddy job, you still left one comma there!

    @Alan W. Rateliff, II

    "but nuke the house and the roaches are gone"

    Don't you go give them ideas, man...

  14. RW
    Thumb Down

    Binary newsgroups: a longstanding problem

    Title says it all.

    I was a habitue of usenet for about 10 years, but gave up when the level of discourse got too juvenile. During those 10 years, complaints were legion about the resource consumption of the alt.binaries hierarchy. I'm surprised it's survived as long as it has.

    Observation: It seems like all online forums of whatever type eventually deteriorate into childishness unless moderated ruthlessly. I used to subscribe to a mailing list for discussion of alpine plants (rock garden plants). When some newly subscribed dimwit waltzed in asking how to keep her petunias from getting mildew, that was the last straw and I had to say "sayonara, turkeys!"

    More recently, a mailing list devoted to geophytes had messages advertising a display of cactuses and succulent plants. Evidently the concept "staying on topic" is impossible for some minds to absorb or to believe it applies to them as well as to the rest of the N billion people on the planet.

  15. Graham Marsden
    Thumb Down


    > I guess that's the way Democrats want it.

    As opposed to Bush and his cronies "anti-porn initiative" that had FBI agents surfing for "deviant imagery" which featured consenting adults, forcing several companies to shut down because, even though they would have eventually won the court cases, they'd have been bankrupted in doing so.

    Still, let's Stop the Propaganda, eh?

  16. Steve Renouf

    @ "but nuke the house and the roaches are gone"

    ... and the fall-out poisons the land/air/water for hundreds/thousands of years hence.

  17. Ben Boyle
    Dead Vulture


    ...they came for usenet, aNd I said nothing...

  18. Kevin Kitts
    Dead Vulture

    They come for your freedoms one by one...

    next, they'll force ISPs to ban all connections outside the US to stop the child pornography from coming overseas. Never mind that that kind of action will prevent all forms of legitimate speech from flowing in and out of the US. Then, once nobody knows what goes on here (except lies from the cable news crap), the government will start the New World Order. No freedom for you.

    As Metallica said, "You can do it your own way, if it's done just how I say."

    Wake up. You can't stop child porn by banning all porn sites. They will start using legitimate businesses as fronts to speakeasies (like software pirates, for instance). ISPs can't scan every file uploaded to their servers because it takes too much time and personnel to do it. What will they do then, ban *all* businesses from the web?

    This is so stupid, Andrew Cuomo should be recalled immediately (or fired for gross negligence of duty in deliberately trying to violate First Amendment rights of legitimate porn users and Usenet readers).

    Oh yeah, no more online models of human anatomy for nurses, either. Too bad for your education, either buy some of your own, or stand in line at your local college with the rest of the anatomy students. Government doesn't care that you want to help people, you're viewing online PORN! [To the government, if it's naked, it's porn.]

    This is the fall of liberty...picked at by uncaring vultures (sorry, El Reg) who eat at the carcass while it's still alive.

  19. Mikel Kirk

    NY AG moves to shut down a venue for free speech

    That's what the headlines should say. Newspapers, tv, magazines and other media, they're coming for you next.

    I haven't even opened any Usenet News in many years but I know that the vast majority of the newly blocked content has nothing to do with children. Kiddie porn is abhorrent and it's an issue that needs to be dealt with. Banning a mode of communication is not the way to do it.

    This whole campaign is about the videos and images that content providers would like to have blocked. That's transparent, but they can't say that because -- shock! Nobody cares. "Remember too that, when once it ceases to be considered as wrong and discreditable to invade literary property, no person can say where the invasion will stop." - Thomas Babington Macaulay, 1/29/1841.

    All of this needs to stop. We need to take away the motivation of the content owners to invade our other rights. The cure may have to be to abolish copyright altogether. It's a bitter pill to lose the exclusive right to control the printing of one's words, but more offensive it is to lose the ability to print them at all.

  20. Tony Paulazzo

    New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo

    It's called a witch hunt. First it was women with libertarian ideas, then jews, blacks, gays, books, comics, films, pornography, drinking, drugs... Every twenty years or so the American leaders need to be seen to be doing something about something, probably doesn't matter what. But this last one is a doozy, no one's going to march on Washington asking for freedom of expression to bugger little children.

    In point of fact, just what percentage of the population is into this? When the British government did a sweep (a few years ago) of people using their credit cards to access peodophilia websites, the list of top tier society men (supposedly doing 'research' into child pornography) was pretty astounding.

    Now, either lusting after children is a natural progression of male domination (which I refuse to believe), or something is broken in these men (not sure how many women are into it - Myra Hindley I guess), which would indicate they need 1) psychological counselling or, 2) chemical castration.

    Witch hunts need to be left in the 20th century. They achieved nothing but suffering for innocent people. Makes me wonder why Cuomo is so vociferous in his hatred - touching a nerve or something...

  21. Mark Burton

    Best comment yet

    StopThePropaganda clearly has made the best comment yet with

    "...I guess that's the way Democrats want it. If 1/10 of 1% commit a crime with a gun, ban all guns. if the same proportion of illegal pr0n is out there on binaries then ban them all!

    But, if 10% of a given racial or immigration status group is committing crimes, don't touch those because that would cut down on the amount of thugs supporting these politicians.."

    Fantastic! A bullshit political dig, guns and racism all in one go. Oh and throw in some made-up statistics to lend a bit of weight.

    Is he after a job with

  22. Steve Ball

    @everyone: Doesn't it get tiring ...

    Knowing the answer to everything?

    Without exception, every single story posted on the Register has the usual cacophony of naysayers. The nicest thing someone said about this story was that the AG has good intentions. So everyone knows why the plan will fail, just by consulting their wide* knowledge of social dynamics - why can't you post anything constructive with all that knowledge?

    I used to love reading El Reg articles & comments, simply because of all the insightful technical information. And occasionally some biting satire / humour :) Sadly though, some time over the last year, almost every single poster has morphed into Victor Mildrew!

    Never mind Usenet being cluttered with useless crap - El Reg's comments section should be nuked owing to the dismal signal / noise ratio!

    Meh. Cue the flaming. Bring it.

    * Strangely, never wide enough to suggest a perfect solution ...

  23. Anonymous Coward

    Newsgroups/mailing lists are hotbeds for terrorists too, y'know

    I subscribe to a mailing list for a Science-Fiction role-playing game; a few years ago, one of the other list members related how he had been emailed by someone wanting to talk to him about the fusion gun he had "specifications" for on his website.

    Despite the presence of starships, flying cars and other high-tech tomfoolery, this nutter apparently thought the fusion gun (and the armored battledress) were real, and wanted to know if he could try one before placing an order...

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Steve Ball

    "So everyone knows why the plan will fail, just by consulting their wide* knowledge of social dynamics


    * Strangely, never wide enough to suggest a perfect solution"

    Perhaps because our knowledge is wide enough to know

    (a) There never is a "perfect solution".

    (b) Half-assed solutions are worse than no solutions at all.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    All the binary groups?

    That doesnt really make sense, why not just ban the* newsgroups?

  26. Arnold Layne
    Paris Hilton

    It's the "Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade"...

    ...and Andrew Cuomo is Captain Black. I claim my £5.

    Paris who mumbled "gimme eat" with a full mouth

  27. Doug Glass


    RE:@everyone: Doesn't it get tiring ...

    By Steve Ball

    Posted Wednesday 23rd July 2008 08:28 GMT

    As my USMC buddy is prone to saying concerning totally useless things, "Bring the rain brother, bring the rain".

  28. Mark

    Just political grandstanding

    This is just political grandstanding - just because a few ISPs servers won't be carrying these groups doesn't mean the groups and their content don't still exist and aren't freely (well $0.50 a gig or whatever it is) available to all from a pay news service.

    Better to have this stuff out in the open where you can trace and lock up the culprits than force it underground.

  29. teacake


    "It is so obvious he is after Eliot's old job including the perks along with everything else that he had too before he was evicted , atypical of the double standards all yanker self wanking wowser politicians suffer from in the land of the paranoid and unfree and the rather nice comfortable attachments or aides that come with the job !"

    Careful. A fleck of spittle hit me just then.

  30. Steve Ringham

    @ Tony Paulazzo - 3rd option

    The sweep you mention was known here as Operation Ore. After the initial hand-wringing and back-slapping had died down, it transpired that a lot of the cases were not because the UK of full of paedos.

    The stolen credit card details of such men as Pete Townsend (from The Who) and Robert Del Naja (3D from Massive Attack) were fraudulently used to pay for access to a range of porn sites of all varieties hosted by Landlside inc. When the UK police started to track these accesses, they followed the cards back to the owners. But they forgot to follow the payments, which predominantly ended up in the same place. Shoddy police work.

    See for a potted version of Operation Ore.

    You should therefore add a 3rd scenario - that governments and the police have little understanding of the Internet and IT in general and are therefore most likely to bugger things up at every opportunity

    But you are right about witch hunts!

  31. Nameless Faceless Computer User

    Red Herrings

    Most U.S. law makers hide behind the "Save the children" battle cry. It is much more likely it's a veiled attempt to go after file sharers, music downloaders, and software pirates.

  32. Scott

    @Steve Ball

    Where's your solution then? all most people here seem to be saying is the answer is not to just block/delete/stop access to everything, even the Chinese only block certain web sites not wholes.

  33. TMS9900

    Er, what?

    Is it me?

    Isn't this 'the cart before the horse'?

    I mean, blocking news groups or websites with child porn on them isn't a solution to the problem.

    The newsgroups contaminated with child porn are a *symptom*. They are not in themselves the main issue. The main issue is the dirty bastards that are posting this stuff, which brings me on to my next point.

    If I were involved in high-tech law enforcement, and tracing these vile bastards, I'd be pretty pissed off with this politican bloke. You could quitely sit on the newsgroups, tracking the offenders, and building up a water-tight legal case before moving in and nailing the scum-suckers.

    Now, they are going to be diluted, dispered to who knows what corners of the internet, whereas at least with newsgroups, you could track (and eventually arrest) them.

    Killing newsgroups just makes the Police's job harder if you ask me. It's NOT the newsgroups they should be targeting, it's the dirty scum bag Paedo's, *via* the newsgroups. The newsgroups are an *asset* to help you nail these scums.

    HELLO????? <knocks screen three times, shakes head>

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I agree with Steve Ball.

    You all bitching about the removal of Usenet. Has this guy actually asked for this?

    No he pointed out a tiny percentage of groups that should be addressed.

    The ISP cannot be bothered to monitor systems they host, so THEY, not this guy, shut them down.

    it's a well known fact that the US is one of the biggest hosts for kiddie porn (and spam), yet the people on this site seem quite content to keep letting it go on, commenting with empty suggestions.

    So come on smart arses, what would you do? Have someone monitor the hundreds of thousands of pages (for free of course, you wouldn't want to pay for it would you)? Ooo I know ban a few groups, because they would never think of using another group. I know get an automated device to look for it, oh but then your bitch that your being spied on. i know catch the people doing it, because I sure they wouldn't use open connections etc. Or shall we just prentend it's not happening and hope it goes away by itself.

    So many people have so many comments on how to do things here, so why don't you get off your soap boxes and stop telling people how things should be done and f**king do the job yourselves. Oh I forgot, most people have no idea about business and live in this dream utopia world, where everyone knows the perfect solution, everything is free, yet people still get paid money to have there utopian holidays and perfectly designed lives.

    To be honest, I gave up on usenet years ago when it became a host for porn, spam, hate and racisim and thats just the technical groups.

    And flame on.......

  35. Steve Ball
    Dead Vulture

    My solution ...

    I don't have one. That's why I refrain from comparing people to Nazi's (as has been done twice at least in the comments to this one story), etc. That's not to say that I won't criticize the solution - I just won't attack the proposer.

    And, to be fair, the AG just asked for the ISPs to delete inappropriate content, right? It was the ISPs themselves who decided to rinse the Usenet groups. You can't really blame Cuomo for that, can you?

    The whole point of my post was to ask people not to be so negative, I suppose.

    Bring the rain, brothers. Bring the rain :)

  36. Graham Marsden

    @Steve Ball

    You are making the classic fallacious argument (often seen in usenet!) of "if you want to object to something you must provide an alternate/ better solution".

    Well, no, sorry, we don't have to do anything of the sort.

    If something is a stupid idea we are free to say "that's a stupid idea for these reasons, so just don't do it" and that is exactly what we are doing.

  37. Anonymous Coward



  38. Jon Kale

    @Mark Burton

    "Is he after a job with"

    No, he's angling for a paid gig posting splenetically on HYS.

  39. Tim

    American government, Porn Profiteers.

    What many of you don't understand is that the American Government earn loads of cash taxing the porn bought in american shops. So therefore they are profiting from the Porn sales in the US of A. How two faced is that?

  40. David Thomas Hodan


    The Internet will recognize this damage and simply route around it. What Cuomo does not realize is the fact that his government designed it (internet) this way. Lot's of ISP's have banned all alt. and/or binary groups for quite some time. Those that are interested can always use a commercial news feed or set up your own private nntp service, so what exactly is Cuomo trying to stop here. At least Comcast understands this. Cuomo and whoever runs these other ISP's do not.

  41. Anonymous Coward

    so now what

    (1) these "agreements" are all signed in secret and have no basis in law.

    (2) there has been no evidence shown that ALL the newsgroups deleted from user access contain porn of any kind, much less as suggested.

    (3) it apparently does cost the isp's to host or provide access to the newsgroups so anything deleted there is money in their pockets (and certainly NOT given back to their now-shorted customers)

    (4) one would think the people of new york would be wondering why this idiot is taking this stand when the rest of the nation/world is having so many other problems (again, mind you, no legal basis for this).

    (5) This moron is hardly competant to decide what HE reads or views and certainly not the rest of the world.

    (6) i doubt that any of the isp's would be harmed by a lawsuit if he were to bring one as there is no basis for it and he would just be wasting taxpayer dollars; they wouldn't even get bad press as they are ISPs and thus legally protected for what traverses the network.

    (7) censorship has, and always will fail

    (8) the far left democrat (demogogue) is no better than the far right republican (reptilian)

    (9) won't someone think of the children? eh, we are; when are you going to start?

  42. Anonymous Coward

    Boo hoo

    Simple way to bypass those banned newsgroups, pay for them in a foreign country. I don't think Cuomo's arm stretches into Europe (or Canada).

    Regarding blocking site, who do you think most phishing sites are located in countries that don't give a sh?t about what laws are broken (think China, Russia, ...).

    Some ISPs have killed off binaries not because of porn and pirating of software, music and movies but because their servers don't have the capacity to keep 50,000+ newsgroups alive.

    Finally. Banning newsgroups are useless when the porn lovers can just start another newsgroup. Eventually [unless it has an obvious name like alt.binaries.dvd.pedophile] the ISPs will add it and the whole cycle starts over.

  43. Steve Ball

    @Graham Marsden

    You are correct, you don't have to have a perfect solution in order to criticize another. I would apologise, but I never used that particular argument.

    Kindly re-read my original post and you'll see that I was just objecting to the ubiquitous negative tone found in El Reg's comment posts.

  44. Kevin Kitts


    when any government does something insanely stupid, it's our job to say something. If people are looking for solutions to get rid of child pornography here, I'd suggest going to, where they do that for a living - not here.

    However, when ISPs start taking down newsgroups willy-nilly for no good reason, it's our duty as citizens to bitch about it (or keep quiet if we don't care).

    Epiphany: Speaking out is what comment pages are for. If you don't like the comments, the mouse is under your palm, you know. You can always go to MSNBC's web site, look up "To Catch A Predator" and ask if you can contribute to the cause in some way (most of the people they catch are probably into kiddie porn, too). Me, I'm not in any shape to become an FBI agent, so I'll just sit here and bitch while I still have a free-speech pipeline to the outside world.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    re: so now what?

    Sorry, have to append prior with:

    10) forgot about the payoffs to this douchebag and his accomplices (do they qualify for prosecution under RICO?) it sure looks like a criminal conspiracy to extract money from the ISPs.

  46. David

    Cuomo Crazy

    "The Internet will recognize this damage and simply route around it. What Cuomo does not realize is the fact that his government designed it (internet) this way. Lot's of ISP's have banned all alt. and/or binary groups for quite some time. Those that are interested can always use a commercial news feed or set up your own private nntp service, so what exactly is Cuomo trying to stop here. At least Comcast understands this. Cuomo and whoever runs these other ISP's do not."

    COMPLETELY agree. And for these ISPs to comply by eliminating Usenet completely is utterly ridiculous!

    I found a Usenet provider though that is offering 15% off the lifetime of any subscription for anyone who has been wrongly scarred by these latest chain of events. Im happy with the service, but not related to the company in any way.

    Hope this helps!

  47. Smoovious

    Enough already!!!

    Would you guys just stop calling the alt.* heirarchy "UseNet"?! They are NOT UseNet... they are AltNet...

    UseNet isn't 'the newsgroups', it is just one set of heirarchies.

    The AG doesn't have a problem with UseNet... UseNet has some pretty stupid rules for creating a new newsgroup, and only a handful of them are binary groups, and nothing to do with what the AG is trying to stop.

    AltNet on the other hand, is the anarchy heirarchy. It is just as valuable as UseNet, even tho many of us find what's on them distasteful, it is the epitome of Freedom of Speech.

    If he has a problem with the content on some specific AltNet groups, then fine, deal with the specific AltNet groups, and the specific AltNet posters who are doing it.

    UseNet is NOT a generic term, and the alt.* heirarchy is NOT a part of UseNet...

    -- Smoovious

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