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Friday, July 11, 2008

ISPs Target Child Porn

I tell the students in my classes that they know they've found something interesting whenever companies begin to argue that they are doing something because…wait for it…they want to stop child pornography.

The reason I tell them that: it's absolutely impossible to argue against stopping child porn without looking like a complete and total dirt bag.

This is relevant because two major Internet Service Providers -- AT&T and AOL -- announced they and three others companies would shut down access to child porn newsgroups.

On the surface, this is a good thing. Child porn is bad.

According to reports, the main targets of the purge are newsgroups, places where people hold discussions on message boards, where one person starts a thread and others respond. The ISPs have said they would stop hosting the groups that engage in trading -- and presumably discussing -- child pornography.

However, the details of how this is going to happen are a bit…disconcerting.

Time Warner, Sprint, Verizon and AOL already have begun monitoring content, blocking community boards and taking down child porn sites.

It's the monitoring content thing that has me a little unsure.

Up until now, companies have largely kept their hands off monitoring and censoring content online. That was left up to the community -- or in the case of illegal activity -- it was left to the person or company violated to bring forth the matter.

Now we have the very conduits to the Web watching us under the guise of stopping child pornography (and stopping child pornography, I repeat, is a good thing).

It's a slippery slope, allowing the people who control access to the Web to monitor even small portions of what we discuss and disseminate.

By Brad at 05:14 PM | Comments (2)

(2) Thoughts on ISPs Target Child Porn

no kidding! And there are pesky p2p,copy infringement,unlocked iphone, and free voip apps running over the Company's lines, clogging things up. Martha! Just look at the stuff people do, from which the Company is not getting a slice. Undoubtedly the data gathered in the monitoring will be used for marketing.

Seems to me they lose their immunity to suit once they promise to protect us from bad things, but don't do it perfectly.

Comments by anon : Tuesday, July 15, 2008 at 11:43 AM

I spent a few years covering this type of stuff at Wired -- and I can tell you, years later I don't feel like an expert.

What I do know is this: anytime a company says it's not using the data, I am skeptical.

Comments by Brad King : Wednesday, July 16, 2008 at 05:01 PM

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