Forgot your password?
Censorship Communications The Internet Your Rights Online

Usenet Blocking Intensifies 449

Posted by Soulskill
from the forest-for-the-trees dept.
I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "The war against the alt.* hierarchy of Usenet continues as NY Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has convinced two more ISPs to drop access to part of Usenet. They've also set up the website NY Stop Child Porn, and convinced California to join them in the fight. In some sense, this is rather like bulldozing the slums to fight crime; sure, it might get rid of a lot of undesirables, but it also affects many innocent people, and everyone will now start migrating elsewhere in droves. The article notes, 'Cuomo's new web site signifies that he's clearly not done yet. It includes contact information for 20 ISPs that presumably operate in New York, and text of a letter to send to them to urge that they sign on to the campaign.' And you thought the Eternal September was bad..."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Usenet Blocking Intensifies

Comments Filter:
  • Wonderful. (Score:5, Funny)

    by PunkOfLinux (870955) <> on Friday July 11, 2008 @10:02PM (#24160827) Homepage

    no more kinky sex stuff on usenet :\ That's the only good part of it, too.

    • Re:Wonderful. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Chrono11901 (901948) on Friday July 11, 2008 @11:06PM (#24161301)

      pointless, nearly everyone who does pirate stuff off of usenet uses something like giganews.

        Hell i wish they put more legit stuff on it, i get 1.5-2MBs via giganews; I even download things like wow from it because its way faster then any other method.

    • Re:Wonderful. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Baseclass (785652) on Saturday July 12, 2008 @02:34AM (#24162319)

      Back in the day usenet was my bread and butter. It is sad to watch it fade away into obscurity. The binary groups have been replaced with p2p and the message boards with blogs. Since my ISP imposed a 2GB per month limit I've stopped using it altogether. I do feel a small piece of me and my heritage has been lost.

      • Re:Wonderful. (Score:3, Interesting)

        by hairyfeet (841228) <{bassbeast1968} {at} {}> on Saturday July 12, 2008 @04:20AM (#24162685) Journal
        2GB per month for Usenet,or 2GB per month period? Because if it is period I'd seriously be looking for another ISP. But I'm afraid we're all going to end up in the walled gardens of tiered Internet. I had to take my cableco's VoIP instead of Vonage because theirs doesn't count against my 36Gb per month cap,whereas Vonage does. And from what I understand Windows updates don't count but Linux does,which is why I cut my distro tasting way down. But at least my little cableco is using my money and that of the other customers to roll out new lines and replace aging infrastructure. We all gave the tax breaks to the big ISPs for upgrading broadband nationally and the big boys simply pocketed it,so I am happy about that if not the cap. But as always this is my 02c,YMMV
  • it's just a cover (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Reality Master 201 (578873) on Friday July 11, 2008 @10:04PM (#24160831) Journal

    It's not just (or probably even mostly) about the kiddie porn - it's the software, video, and music that gets shared in the alt.* hierarchy, too. And the ISPs probably don't mind not providing a service that doesn't do much but cost them extra for bandwidth and storage.

    Still, Cuomo's an asshole.

  • Today Usenet (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Iamthecheese (1264298) on Friday July 11, 2008 @10:07PM (#24160861)
    tomorrow the world!

    bbs FTW! we dont need no steenkin ISPs.

    So whats to stop some enterprising individual from putting all of Usenet on a distributed, encrypted network?
  • by crazybit (918023) on Friday July 11, 2008 @10:11PM (#24160891)

    and start chasing the people that harm the children.

  • by Adrian Lopez (2615) on Friday July 11, 2008 @10:12PM (#24160899) Homepage

    What really bugs me about this is the fact that the Attorney General has employed bogus threats to get ISPs to comply with his demands.

    The AG's allegation is that all these ISPs have engaged in deceptive practices by on the one hand having terms of service that prohibit illegal content, and on the other hand failing to actively screen such content. If the AG's legal theory were correct, prohibiting illegal content would create a responsibility to screen all such content, and from what I can see it doesn't even matter whether the content actually originates on the ISPs servers.

    Folks, the Attorney General's behavior is blatantly unethical. He's using false legal claims to bring down legitimate forums, and the ISPs are bending to his will.

    • by Wrath0fb0b (302444) on Saturday July 12, 2008 @02:08AM (#24162227)

      Folks, the Attorney General's behavior is blatantly unethical. He's using false legal claims to bring down legitimate forums, and the ISPs are bending to his will.

      The ISPs "bent to his will" in the sense that they decided that this particular service was not very important to their customers -- so unimportant that they won't even bother to defend a case that is an obvious slam dunk (according to you, anyway).

      Have you ever heard anyone chose and ISP because of USENET? Most random people have never heard of it and most geeks just chose the fastest connection in their price range -- USENET doesn't figure into it. Just as well, since most ISP-newshosting services are notoriously crappy anyway. Google Groups supports reading and posting to text-based groups, alt.binaries* users will subscribe to giganews and such.

      All in all, a lot of noise about a small dog.

      • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Saturday July 12, 2008 @04:09AM (#24162641)

        Have you ever heard anyone chose and ISP because of USENET?

        Actually, before this fiasco, Verizon was the ISP of choice for usenet access. Their retention never compared to the commercial services, at only about 10 days. But their coverage was 80-90% of the best. Many people chose verizon specifically for their usenet service, especially back when the cable internet speeds weren't much better than dsl. If the recent news hadn't polluted the google searches for older discussions regarding verizon and usenet, I'd probably be able to quickly dig up 10-20 threads specifically praising verizon's usenet service.

  • Spam filters (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Iamthecheese (1264298) on Friday July 11, 2008 @10:13PM (#24160905)
    This will be no more effective than spam filters anyway. Block any group named "kiddy porn" and they'll rename it to k1ddy p0rn, and all the way down to "kay didalee dee pooArn" Filter it by the binaries and you create a race between the sick fucks and the police. One side will make undetectable binaries, the other side will want to detect them. And you'll push up demand for stuff that hasn't already been passed around ;_;
  • by Cordath (581672) on Friday July 11, 2008 @10:14PM (#24160917)
    One of those nice little features of usenet is that people can *create* groups. If they ban the entire alt.* hierarchy, people are just going to create new groups outside the alt hierarchy for everything, legal or not. This will, of course, be an enormous headache to sort out since there will be *many* new groups being created for each existing group and it will take time for people to agree on which ones to use. Perhaps some of the new names will even make sense...

    e.g. startrek.ds9, music.lossless or porn.bigtits.
  • by kurt555gs (309278) <{kurt555gs} {at} {}> on Friday July 11, 2008 @10:18PM (#24160943) Homepage

    Now I can be protected from

    I'll miss it, but after all, it's for the children.

    Also, there should be no "content" on the internet not owned by a benevolent large corporation.

    Losing is worth it to serve our new masters.


    • by wild_quinine (998562) on Friday July 11, 2008 @11:12PM (#24161351) Homepage
      Alt was always going to be the internet's pariah, even before the binaries. Popular history has it that the first three newsgroups in the alt hierarchy were, alt.drugs, and alt.rock-n-roll.

      I've never seen any kiddy porn on usenet, but I know that there's 5 terrabytes a day of something illegal.

      For me, the rub of it is that I just upgraded to an encrypted usenet service so that I can't get clapped in irons for downloading TV shows, and now I'm worried that I'll be labelled as a sex offender.

    • by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Friday July 11, 2008 @11:53PM (#24161619)

      We should also be sure to lose alt.comp.lang.learn.c-c++, a group whose standard has varied over the years, but which much of the time consists of questions asked by young people learning to program and answered by professionals taking the time to help out. It is absolutely essential to protect the interests of children that such volunteers should be put off wherever possible from using modern technology to offer the next generation the same or better opportunities than they enjoyed themselves.

  • usenet on the ropes? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bcrowell (177657) on Friday July 11, 2008 @10:19PM (#24160955) Homepage

    This whole thing is really sad. I love usenet. It's basically the only way I form more than passing personal relationships online. It's a great way to learn about and stay up with anything you're interested in. My ISP completely dropped usenet access last month.

    I suspect that a lot of usenet users are simply going to give up at this point. There's been a vast amount of spam recently for knockoffs of shoes, purses, and watches. Many people whose ISPs have given up are not going to go to the trouble of finding affordable usenet access. Personally, I tried paying octanews, who ripped me off. Then for a while I used google groups, which reminded me of how much better a newsreader is than a web browser for participating in usenet. Finally a slashdotter recommended astraweb, which is working great for me now. Many people who had been using text-only usenet may not realize that you can pay for usenet access by the gigabyte rather than by the month, which means you can basically pay $10 and have usenet access for the indefinite future.

    I mentioned usenet to my sister the other day, and she asked me what it was and why I wanted to use it. I actually had a hard time explaining it until I thought about it later. Basically, it gets the job of running a discussion group done way better than web browser interface. It's also noncommercial and very general -- none of this stuff about screwing around with some specific web-based group that will evaporate in a few years and that has no world-wide profile.

  • HTTP (Score:5, Informative)

    by giminy (94188) on Friday July 11, 2008 @10:19PM (#24160959) Homepage Journal

    Just wait...if Cuomo discovers that child porn is shared via HTTP, he might force ISPs to drop access to the web.

    I have dug a lot of Cuomo's recent suits for their customer/consumer-friendliness (recently he settled with Verizon when they advertised unlimited cell phone use and then dropped customers who talked too much, and also sued Dell for failing to deliver support). This is kind of silly, though. I mean, it's essentially declaring war on a protocol. It reminds me strip #2 of Get Your War On [].

  • by barzok (26681) on Friday July 11, 2008 @10:41PM (#24161129) [] - is that like [] or [] before they added their hyphens?

    Or are they trying to lure in the kiddie-porn people, hoping they'll be looking for New York'S Top Child Porn?

  • by leereyno (32197) on Friday July 11, 2008 @11:13PM (#24161355) Homepage Journal

    Cuomo isn't an attorney, he's a politician.

    He's playing the "Ooooh ooooh look at MEEEE!! I'm stopping those evil kiddy porn traders from hurting kids! I'm going to huff and puff and blow their house down!!!" game.

    Of course nothing he is doing is having any sort of an effect whatsoever, but then that isn't the point. The point is that the average dimwitted (but I repeat myself) person doesn't knows very little about computers and absolutely nothing about usenet. But they sure do vote! So when Cuomo shakes his stick and growls at imaginary hobgoblins, the voters think well of him, and remember that good impression come election day.

    Unfortunately the only real way to stop someone like him is to give him REAL problems to deal with and REAL bad guys to chase after.

    This is what happens when you get rid of the mob, people like Cuomo have too much time on their hands.

  • by Shalom (11335) on Friday July 11, 2008 @11:15PM (#24161363) Homepage

    I used Usenet way back in the day when it was the primary--nay, just about the only way to find like-minded people to discuss topics of interest. Particularly the alt hierarchy.

    But now I find that web site forums, Google/Yahoo groups and email lists have supplanted Usenet. I haven't found any content I was looking for for a really long time on Usenet and haven't found a reason to delve there myself. I think the last time a search returned Usenet was a tech support question I asked like 4-5 years ago. We used it a little bit for Mozilla coordination but even then it felt like the bastard child of communication--bug reports, IRC and email lists were the method of choice.

    It's definitely a sad day, killing a fly with a sledgehammer, etc. etc.--but how relevant is Usenet anymore really? Is it actually still heavily used and I just don't happen to know anyone who uses it?

    • by Skapare (16644) on Saturday July 12, 2008 @01:01AM (#24161969) Homepage

      The problem with the web site forums is the severe fragmentation. You have to join so many different sites just to have access to several of the topics. With Usenet, you could go to a single place to get everything under one signon. With Usenet, if you wanted to jump to another topic you have never been on before to ask some question, it's easy. With the web, you have to go find a site that carries that topic, register, keep track of yet another password, sift through ads that are in many cases abusive, and post your question. Then repeat half of that after you login, and do this all several times to see if you got an answer. And that doesn't even account for the fragmentation of there often being a couple dozen web sites covering the issue. But no web site is as thorough as Usenet; not even close.

      Yes, it is sad that New Yorkers seem to host so many of the idiots of the Democratic party.

      • by slyborg (524607) on Saturday July 12, 2008 @02:22AM (#24162283)

        The problem with the web site forums is the severe fragmentation. You have to join so many different sites just to have access to several of the topics. With Usenet, you could go to a single place to get everything under one signon. With Usenet, if you wanted to jump to another topic you have never been on before to ask some question, it's easy. With the web, you have to go find a site that carries that topic, register, keep track of yet another password, sift through ads that are in many cases abusive, and post your question.

        +1 Insightful. Exactly right, USENET was fundamentally a democratic medium, since except for moderated groups, it wasn't "owned" by someone like a web forum. And as noted, it was all in one place. in so many ways, a lot of the "innovation" on the Web is retrograde. In some sense, what we have gone back to is the old BBS model, only with Google so you can actually find the locations of discussions.

        The other good point here is that the main problem commercial types have with the old school USENET is that it doesn't permit real advertising delivery, since it isn't possible to easily determine how many views a posting gets. Plus it's text, which is pretty unappealing to Madison Avenue, since they can't show all the skillz at bullshitting the masses via kewl graphic design.

        Since it's in the ISP's own interest to kill USENET, I think this puts the nails in the coffin. The non-affiliated providers like Supernews are now the long poles, and they'll have to cave as well.

  • by rastoboy29 (807168) on Friday July 11, 2008 @11:28PM (#24161445) Homepage
    Frankly, I've been amazed for years at Usenet's continued slipping  under the radar.  It's interesting that these days it's considered a kind of advanced or very geeky part of the internet, when in the old days it was often our first foray into global networking (after FIDOnet, of course!).

    Increasingly, it seems like Usenet is being hosted by a few large, dedicated Usenet providers, and ISP's just subscribe to them for their users, which is understandable.  Who wants to maintain an NNTP server?

    Only problem is it makes it easier to take down.

    The stupids, now that they are starting to finally grasp the true power of the internet, are naturally keen to see it destroyed...because they're stupid.  We gotta remember who's right in this struggle, and the importance of protecting unpleasant and unpopular speech--including filez, warez, movies--everything.  If you can keep me from sharing data you don't want shared, you can control what I say.  There's no two ways about it, you can have one or the other--free speech or control over content.

    Besides, didn't I read a year or two ago how some of the big Usenet providers were working with the Feds to try to filter out the kiddie porn?  I highly approve of that action, and I think thats where we need to draw the line.

  • by mlwmohawk (801821) on Friday July 11, 2008 @11:35PM (#24161495)

    I have always believed that the flaw of the internet was in fact one of its strengths, The idea that it is a web of unrelated legal entities routing traffic. Once one starts to think about which traffic to route, the internet as a "free" (as in freedom) medium breaks down.

    This is exactly what we are seeing today.

    The problem with the internet is the same problem we have with the U.S.A. Fascism! The joining of government and industry is a dangerous precedent and strategy.

    Just remember, Hitler (no godwin here, actual history) was fighting terrorists and protecting the children. We should be very suspicious of government that employs industry for its objectives because that mean industry will employ government of its objectives.

    With RIAA, MPIAA, the telecoms and ISPs, and the new FISA bill can we ignore this any longer?

  • by Col Bat Guano (633857) on Saturday July 12, 2008 @12:16AM (#24161741)
    Go on - you know you want to :-)
  • by Skapare (16644) on Saturday July 12, 2008 @12:48AM (#24161909) Homepage


    RE: Stopping child porn on the Internet

    Dear ISP:

    I am sure you are aware of the New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's campaign that claims it is to rid the Internet of child porn. So far, several major ISPs have fallen for the lies perpetrated by AG Cuomo and agreed to a code of serious misconduct to broadly overreact and shut down a huge portion of the Internet that has nothing to do with child porn. I am a subscriber to your services and am concerned that you might also be mislead by these lies and end up committing to the destructive agenda set out by Attorney General Cuomo. I urge you to contact the Attorney General's Office as soon as possible and tell him you will not participate in this stupid foolishness that will do nothing to actually shut down child pornography. Tell him instead that you will shut down actual sources of child pornography and nothing more than that. Tell him that you do not need to sign any agreements with his office whatsoever in order to do the right thing.



    cc: Office of New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo

  • by realperseus (594176) on Saturday July 12, 2008 @02:06AM (#24162221)
    Folks, I'm flabbergasted at the lack of outcry on Slashdot about the loss of ALT groups, and/or the loss of Usenet access entirely to internet subscribers. I don't know about you but I consider this action censorship. Instead of chasing down the 5,000 or so pervs that use Usenet to spam the entire ALT hirachy with their "come hither" ads, and post to their junk on their own ALT groups, Cuomo instead decides to "carpet bomb" ISP's.

    Perhaps Slashdot is filled with users that are just interested in publishing various "workarounds" instead of addressing the real problem. Here I am looking for someone/something to "rally-cry" with, but nobody is home.. .

  • There must be (Score:4, Insightful)

    by houghi (78078) on Saturday July 12, 2008 @03:22AM (#24162481)

    a 'Soviet America' joke in there. The sad fact is that it isn't a joke anymore.

    On another note:

    When the governement came for p2p,
    I remained silent;
    I was not a p2p user

    Whem the governement closed nntp,
    I remained silent,
    I was not a Usenet user.

    When the governement came for ssh,
    I remained silent,
    I was not a ssh user.

    When the govenement came for http,
    there was no way left to speak out.

  • by jejones (115979) on Saturday July 12, 2008 @04:19AM (#24162679) Journal

    From the front page of "":

    "Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's office earlier this year conducted an unprecedented undercover investigation that revealed a major source of online child pornography known as Newsgroups, an online service not associated with websites."

A slow pup is a lazy dog. -- Willard Espy, "An Almanac of Words at Play"