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[ NNSquad ] Re: Update on ISP Actions Regarding C-Porn and Usenet
It is important to remember that Usenet is an application level service and Verizon can apply its policies vs others in open marketplace. Whether they will succeed is arguable. I expect the others to follow TWC and drop NNTP support (AKA, Usenet).
What is interesting is that if you read the terms of service from Verizon, much of it is (was?) about Usenet etiquette -- many of the concerns date back to the days when it was indeed all about Usenet and there was no Web. You aren't allowed to say bad things about Verizon and others.
The term "bar websites" in the NYT article is confusing -- if it simply means they won't host certain content that is far less of a concern than blocking by IP addresses, especially given that Verizon has, so far, declined to act as the copyright police for bits passing then this might sharpen the distinction between application layer services and pure bit transport.
Perhaps the next step is to force all controversial (AKA, interesting, not necessarily just prurient) video content to alternate distribution. What happens when the companies have to choose between being in the commodity data transport business with no price floor and the high value content businesses?
Update on ISP Actions Regarding C-Porn and Usenet
Greetings. The related ISPs have been working to clarify aspects of
the New York Times story that I discussed earlier today
( http://lauren.vortex.com/archive/000389.html ).
The upshot is interesting. In contrast to the implications of the
Times piece, it appears that U.S. ISPs (unlike a newly penned deal
in France involving French ISPs) will not for the moment be actively
blocking any "class" of Web content, but rather will work to remove
c-porn sites from their servers (something most people apparently
assumed they'd been doing anyway ... ).
So the big to-do from the politicos about this aspect seems to best
be filed under grandstanding.
But there is a very disturbing additional element to this story.
Time Warner Cable says that they are cutting off subscriber access
to all Usenet newsgroups (child porn was found in 88 of the vast
number of total newsgroups). Sprint is cutting off 10's of 1000's
of alt.* newsgroups (and what a war it was back when those were
created long, long ago!) Verizon plans "broad" newsgroup cutoffs.
While Usenet newsgroups are certainly not the draw that they were
many years ago, they still have an important role to play in the
free exchange of legal information on the Internet today.
Using the presence of illicit materials in some portion of a content
stream as an excuse to abolish or decimate the legal content is
inexcusable. In fact, that sort of "guilt by association" and "we
can get away with this because most people don't know about it"
action is the very essence of a particularly insidious form of
Of course, the ISPs could argue that they're under no legal
obligation to carry Usenet newsgroups in any form. This is true.
But then, most ISPs aren't under a legal mandate to provide
connectivity to any given Web sites, either.
So one might wonder, given these ISPs' eagerness to hoist much or
all of the completely legal content of Usenet on the petard of
fettering out c-porn, which aspects of the Internet will be next to
fall into the line-of-sight of their big red cutoff switch?
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- People For Internet Responsibility - http://www.pfir.org
- Network Neutrality Squad - http://www.nnsquad.org
Founder, PRIVACY Forum - http://www.vortex.com
Member, ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy
Lauren's Blog: http://lauren.vortex.com