ISP-based newsgroups have taken a beating in the last month, as New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's initiative against child pornography has forced many of the more popular newsgroup hierarchies offline. Verizon, Sprint, RoadRunner, and late last week, AT&T, have all acted on the Attorney General's recommendation. Today, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA) announced a "historic" agreement where all member companies have entered into a MOU (Memoradum of Understanding) with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) to attack child pornography on their servers and networks.
The exact details of the MOU is unknown, as Rob Stoddard, Senior Vice President of Communications for the NCTA, informed Slyck.com that the information contained in the MOU is not releasable. However, it's rather clear from the press release
that the fight initiated by Andrew Cuomo is now taking on nationwide proportions. NCTA is the premier organization that represents the telecommunications industry, and today's announcement has the endorsement of every member.
Those who signed on today are as follows: "Comcast Corporation; Cox Communications; Charter Communications; Cablevision Systems Corporation; Bright House Networks; Suddenlink Communications; Mediacom Communications; Insight Communications; Bresnan Communications; Midcontinent Communications; Broadstripe; GCI; Harron Communications; US Cable Corporation; BendBroadband; Eagle Communications; and Sjoberg’s, Inc. Time Warner Cable has already signed the MOU."
This total number of ISPs represents 87% of all carriers, providing connectivity to 112 million individuals. From the press release, it's difficult to gauge what Internet medium will be targeted. However, the statement does offer the following:
"Specifically, the cable companies have agreed to use NCMEC's (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children) list of active websites identified as containing child pornography, to ensure that no such site is hosted on servers owned or controlled by those companies. The companies will also report these instances to NCMEC's CyberTipline and where appropriate revise their policies around other potential sources of child pornography, such as, for example, newsgroups."
Slyck followed up with Rob Stoddard, who told us the list referred to in the press release was a "prospective statement". A representative from NCMEC clarified that the agreement is protocol agnostic, and their targets change as content appears. If the past is any indication of what's in store for ISP customers, the newsgroups may very well be a prime target.
The move garnered support from 45 Attorneys Generals. In a letter
to the NCTA, Attorney General Patrick Lynch of Rhode Island and President of NAAG, offered his congratulations on the agreement.
“I commend the nation’s cable operators for utilizing the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA) to negotiate and collectively enter into a unprecedented industry-wide agreement with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) to limit the availability of child pornography on the internet.”
What this means for the newsgroups is unknown at this time, however as ISPs begin to enact the MOU, the repercussions of this agreement will likely be felt throughout the online community.