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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?

Stay tuned ... oh, I guess I can't say that since kids don't know about tuners anymore nor why they shouldn't touch the dial. And soon they will wonder what a channel was.



-----Original Message-----
From: nnsquad-bounces+nnsquad=bobf.frankston.com@nnsquad.org [mailto:nnsquad-bounces+nnsquad=bobf.frankston.com@nnsquad.org] On Behalf Of Lauren Weinstein
Sent: Tuesday, June 10, 2008 20:03
To: nnsquad@nnsquad.org
Cc: lauren@vortex.com
Subject: [ NNSquad ] Update on ISP Actions Regarding C-Porn and Usenet



            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?



Lauren Weinstein

lauren@vortex.com or lauren@pfir.org

Tel: +1 (818) 225-2800


Co-Founder, PFIR

   - People For Internet Responsibility - http://www.pfir.org

Co-Founder, NNSquad

   - 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