N.Y. Attorney General Gets AT&T, AOL to Block Child Porn Websites, Newsgroups

Tod Hunter
ALBANY, N.Y. — Two of the largest Internet service providers in the U.S. have eliminated access to discussion groups that featured child pornography, according to N.Y. Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.

The two ISPs, AT&T and AOL, also agreed to purge their servers of child porn websites. AT&T is the nation's largest Internet service provider; AOL is the third largest.

Cuomo announced similar commitments last month from Verizon, Sprint and Time Warner Cable. As part of their agreements, those three companies will implement new systems that will allow them to respond quicker to child porn complaints and also pay a total of $1.125 million to help the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

All five ISPs also agreed to remove all child pornography websites identified by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children on their servers.

In a more controversial measure, Cuomo also targeted Usenet newsgroups after investigators from his office reviewed millions of pictures over several months and found 88 different newsgroups that contained 11,390 questionable photos of prepubescent children. Time Warner is blocking Usenet entirely, Sprint is blocking the alt.* hierarchy, AT&T is blocking alt.binary newsgroups and Verizon is evaluating newsgroups individually. AOL stopped offering newsgroups in 2005 due to lack of interest by subscribers.

Last year, Cuomo reached agreements with the social networking sites MySpace and Facebook to toughen protections against online sexual predators. Cuomo's office also drafted the "Electronic Security and Targeting of Online Predators Act," which was signed into law by Gov. David Paterson in May. It restricts certain sex offenders' use of the Internet.