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6/10/2008
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ISPs Agree To Block Child Porn Sites, Newsgroups

Verizon, Time Warner Cable, and Sprint have also agreed to pay a total of $1.125 million to support the activities of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

Several Internet service providers have agreed to shut down Web sites and online groups that provide child pornography.

New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced the deal Tuesday, which resulted from a continuing investigation. Verizon, Time Warner Cable, and Sprint have agreed to purge their servers of child porn Web sites and prevent access to child porn newsgroups, which Cuomo's office has identified as a major source of online child pornography.

"The pervasiveness of child pornography on the Internet is horrific and it needs to be stopped," Cuomo said in a news announcement. "We are attacking this problem by working with Internet Service Providers to ensure they do not play host to this immoral business. I commend the companies that have stepped up today to embrace a new standard of responsibility, which should serve as a model for the entire industry."

The Attorney General's office said it reviewed millions of images and found 88 newsgroups containing 11,390 pornographic photos of prepubescent children. Undercover investigators found that every online picture has a unique hash value that they could use to search for and match the same digital image anywhere online. They built a library of hash values for images of child pornography and sifted through tens of thousands of online files simultaneously to identify sources of pornography as well as ISPs that allowed access to it.

The ISPs agreed to block newsgroups that allowed users to upload and download child pornography. They also will block Web sites identified by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, which maintains an updated registry of Web sites that exploit children. The three ISPs agreed to deploy a new system to respond quickly to user complaints about child pornography. Finally, Verizon, Time Warner, and Sprint agreed to pay a total of $1.125 million to support the activities of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and the Attorney General's office that aim to eliminate child pornography from the Internet.

Cuomo commended the ISPs for the agreement and characterized it as a breakthrough.

"These companies are leading the industry and instituting new and innovative ways to stop their service from being used by people looking to distribute and access child pornography," he said in a news announcement. "I call on all Internet service providers to follow their example and help deter the spread of online child porn."

Ernie Allen, CEO of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, said called it a "major step forward."

"Attorney General Cuomo has developed a new and effective system that cuts online child porn off at the source, and stops it from spreading across the Internet," he said.

Verizon Deputy General Counsel Tom Dailey said his company was working to remove child pornography permanently.

Jeff Zimmerman, Time Warner Cable SVP and ethics chief, called online child pornography "one of the worst abuses of the Internet" and vowed to fight it.

In addition to keeping the agreement, Time Warner said it has joined other companies on the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children's Technology Coalition.

Matthew Sullivan, senior public affairs manager for Sprint, said Cuomo had taken the lead nationally in fighting online child pornography and praised him for reaching out to his company and providing an opportunity to expand on its "long-standing commitment" to child safety online.

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