Three of the largest Internet service providers -- Verizon, Time Warner Cable and Sprint -- have agreed to block access to newsgroups and Web sites that serve up child porn, New York Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo announced Tuesday.
Cuomo said, "The pervasiveness of child pornography on the Internet is horrific and it needs to be stopped. We are attacking this problem by working with Internet service providers to ensure they do not play host to this immoral business." He said the companies 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 conducted a months-long investigation into child porn on the Internet and discovered 88 Usenet newsgroups containing 11,390 "sexually lewd" photos of prepubescent children, which in some cases depicted children being raped and sexual activity with animals.
Hashing Child Porn
Investigators developed a system for identifying digital child pornography. Taking advantage of the hash values that every online image contains, investigators built a library of hash values for known child-porn images. The tool allowed the team to quickly search through thousands of images at a time and quickly identify which ISPs were providing access to the images.
The ISPs have also agreed to block Web sites listed by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children as containing child pornography. NCMEC maintains an updated list of illegal sites.
Verizon, Time Warner Cable and Sprint also vowed to created new systems to improve their responses to user complaints about child pornography and to provide a combined $1.125 million to fight child porn.
'Major Step Forward'
Ernie Allen, chief executive of NCMEC, called the agreement a "major step forward" in combating child pornography. Cuomo's system "cuts online child porn off at the source and stops it from spreading across the Internet," he said.
The participating ISPs all expressed a commitment to stopping child porn on the Internet. Verizon deputy general counsel Tom Dailey said, "By shutting down offending newsgroups and contributing to funds that will combat child pornography online, we are working to remove this content permanently."
Jeff Zimmerman, Time Warner Cable's senior vice president and chief ethics officer, said, "We stand with Attorney General Cuomo and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in our commitment to helping curb the spread of this abusive content."
Sprint senior public-affairs manager Matthew Sullivan said, "[W]e are doing our part to deter the accessibility of such harmful content through the Internet and we are providing monetary resources that will go toward the identification and removal of online child pornography. We embrace this opportunity to build upon our own long-standing commitment to online child safety."