Andrew Cuomo pulls the plug on Usenet over "child porn"

By law, only lawmakers are allowed to look at child porn, but that's not enough for New York State's Net-crusading attorney general, Andrew Cuomo. He's demanded that Internet service providers Time Warner Cable, Verizon, and Sprint block access to sites that "disseminate child pornography". This is to be accomplished by preventing users from visiting Usenet newsgroups and a pet list of offending sites drawn up by Cuomo's office. According to News.com, nationwide, Time Warner Cable customers may not be able to visit Usenet at all, and Verizon customers will have the alt.* newsgroups blocked.

“You can’t help but look at this material and not be disturbed,” Cuomo told the New York Times. Double negatives aside, we wouldn't argue with Cuomo — except that most of Usenet, no matter how offensive or value-lacking, does not contain child pornography. As journalist Debbie Nathan reported from The Academy of Forensic Sciences conference on child porn, even the feds are having a hard time deciding what's real and not out there. In this case, Cuomo's office is armed with software that compares this "established" child porn with possible child porn, an application that sounds a lot like the one YouTube offered up to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children earlier this year. They say their database of searchable child porn contains 11,000 images. If anyone wants to know where to find some "disturbing material", at least they know where to start.