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Verizon Cutting Access To Entire Alt.* Usenet Hierarchy 579

modemac writes "Verizon has declared it will no longer offer access to the entire alt.* hierarchy of Usenet newsgroups to its customers. This stems from last week's agreement for major ISPs to cut off access to 'newsgroups and Web sites' that make child pornography available. The story notes, 'No law requires Verizon to do this. Instead, the company (and, to varying extents, Time Warner Cable and Sprint) agreed to restrictions on Usenet in response to political strong-arming by New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat. Cuomo claimed that his office found child porn on 88 newsgroups — out of roughly 100,000 newsgroups that exist.' In response, Verizon will cut its customers off from a large portion of Usenet, as it will only carry newsgroups in the Big 8."
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Verizon Cutting Access To Entire Alt.* Usenet Hierarchy

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  • Re:so what (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 15, 2008 @10:02AM (#23799945)
    Verizon subscribers can still access them through Google Groups, for example.

    I think the issue for many people is more about being blocked from accessing the alt.binaries.* groups, of which Google Groups doesn't provide access (well, not to the actual binary files at least).
  • by Goaway ( 82658 ) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @10:16AM (#23800049) Homepage
    They are just choosing which newsgroups to carry.

    Just like every single NNTP server out there.

    But don't let that stop you from overreacting, though.
  • Binary groups (Score:2, Informative)

    by Undead NDR ( 1252916 ) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @10:30AM (#23800139) Homepage Journal
    Bullshit! If child pornography were the real target, they could have simply removed the binary groups. Removing alt.folklore.computers and alt.os.linux in order to avoid kiddie porn just makes no sense.
  • This is all hype (Score:3, Informative)

    by LS ( 57954 ) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @10:38AM (#23800187) Homepage
    Verizon is not blocking access to newsgroups in general. They are just no longer providing servers to host newsgroups themselves. You can still connect to other newsgroup services which exist in multitudes. What's the big deal? I see no problem here...
  • Re:alt.binaries.* (Score:3, Informative)

    by Chaos Incarnate ( 772793 ) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @10:45AM (#23800223) Homepage
    Maybe with Verizon it did, but Road Runner is dropping Usenet entirelly by the end of the month.
  • by Darundal ( 891860 ) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @10:49AM (#23800253) Journal
    Verizon isn't blocking anything, they are just not going to carry anything that isn't from the big 8 ON THEIR OWN SERVERS. That is all they are doing. There is no attempted blocking, no attempted fuck big brotherism, nothing. Anyone who was using the Verizon server can simply use another one (pay or free) and suddenly they have access to all the stuff (legitimate and non) that used to be available from the Verizon server. All that really happened is Cuomo wanted to look good to voters, picked an issue you can't lose (politically) with, started talking to several ISPs, and then they decided that even though what the guy wanted wouldn't solve anything, giving him something to make him happy wouldn't actually hurt anyone, so they said sure. This little bit of theater makes Cuomo look good, it makes the ISPs look good to the (mostly non usenet-using) public, and in actuality doesn't hurt anyone.
  • by eMartin ( 210973 ) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @10:54AM (#23800281)
    Verizon is not really "cutting off access" to anything. They are just no longer providing these groups *on their own servers* which they are completely free to do, and good for them.

    The only times I've used usenet in the last few years were to download TV shows. When my ISP decided to drop postings larger than a few megabytes in order to fight piracy, I was slightly inconvenienced, and had to switch to an alternate pay service, but I didn't complain. In fact I didn't understand why they didn't do it sooner. They were, after all, *hosting* the content on their own servers.

    Now sure, that probably ended up blocking some valid postings along with the wealth of pirated movies and music that could previously have been found, but what else were they to do?

    In this case, the solution isn't so easy though. Do any of you whiners have a better one? And before you suggest cutting of just the obvious child porn groups, you might want to read up on how Usenet works.

    Anyway, I don't see this as unfair. The moment they start blocking websites that *might possibly* contain illegal material, they would be crossing a line into censorship territory where they are deciding what you can or can't expose yourself to, but in this case they are just choosing to not make the material availaable themselves.

    Would you guys also object if a web host cancelled the account of an unmoderated web forum about cars or star trek or whatever but also let people post child porn to their servers?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 15, 2008 @11:07AM (#23800361)
    Homosexuality is a lifestyle choice.

    Uh, you realize that it's not a choice, right? There are plenty of people out there who would love to stop being attracted to their own gender if they could help it.
  • by Archon-X ( 264195 ) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @11:12AM (#23800399)
    My ISP [Free, in France] provides usenet access, but constantly snips off groups according to its whims.

    Since I use Usenet+NZBs, BitNabber works for me.

    Others that might work for you: [] - 200 days retention, from 7.99 p/m [SSL available] - no nzb service [] - from 3.95 p/m - the owner / admin Daniel is very hardline against spam, possibly the cleanest provider out there

    Whilst it's frustrating that service should be cut, it seems that Verizon is behind the curve on cutting NG access anyhow.
  • by maynard ( 3337 ) <j.maynard.gelina ... minus cat> on Sunday June 15, 2008 @11:18AM (#23800445) Journal
    Child pornography is not - and has never been - protected speech under the 1st amendment. And just so we're clear: child pornographers rape little children in front of a camera for profit.

    I have no problem with Verizon's new policy. They own those nntpd servers, they can do anything they want with them. They could blend those machines and post the video to youtube for all I care.

    It is just staggering to me how the bias on slashdot in favor of "free speech" has blinded so many to the terrible horror that children face when abused in this manner. Those children have rights, not the least of which is just the simple right to privacy after the fact, such that their pornographic images are removed from public view. A child's right to privacy, especially in this circumstance, trumps your supposed 1st amendment right to "free speech" - particularly given that this "speech" is not the least bit protected under constitutional law.
  • Re:alt.binaries.* (Score:3, Informative)

    by Tony Hoyle ( 11698 ) <> on Sunday June 15, 2008 @11:28AM (#23800523) Homepage
    It's too late. September will never end.
  • by Tony Hoyle ( 11698 ) <> on Sunday June 15, 2008 @11:38AM (#23800573) Homepage
    alt used to be called Anarchists Lunatics and Terrorists.

    But don't tell the politicians that...
  • Re:That's all? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 15, 2008 @12:17PM (#23800851)

    good luck getting an alt.* nntp feed for any less than $kilobucks$. (also, where are you going to get the OC3 needed to carry the articles to your home server).
    $6/month for 2 concurrent connections (per IP) at
  • Re: alt.binaries.* (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 15, 2008 @12:50PM (#23801109)
    You're being reamed!

    I pay $3 a month for 10GB. It's $6 for 20GB, $10 for 60GB. For $15, you get unlimited downloads. 70 days retention, and if you exceed your cap, you can pony up for your next month early to get your service back. []

    If a third party can offer this service at this price point, an ISP can undercut them with ease, because they don't have to pay for the much larger interconnect bandwidth bills.
  • Re:alt.binaries.* (Score:4, Informative)

    by NothingMore ( 943591 ) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @01:12PM (#23801277)
    Independent usenet providers are often vastly superior to ISP provided usenet anyway(unless they outsource).
  • Re:alt.binaries.* (Score:4, Informative)

    by jgrahn ( 181062 ) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @01:50PM (#23801547)

    I'm a pretty tech-y person, and I haven't touched Usenet since 2001 or so. I don't miss it. Might as well criticize Verizon for not keeping their Gopher site in order, or offering Telnet access to email... let's move on already.

    But some of us don't understand why we need to "move on" from a superior technology.

    NNTP plus a good news reader still beats Slashdot and all other web forums in terms of usability/user-friendliness.

  • Re:alt.binaries.* (Score:5, Informative)

    by dissy ( 172727 ) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @02:03PM (#23801669)

    If everyone that accessed UseNet just switches to a pay for use news site theres no change in bandwidth... You still download it?
    They just save on hardware.
    Even worse than that, it costs them MORE bandwidth this way.

    Keep in mind, most ISPs only pay the big bucks for their internet connectivity. The network between them and you (and all their customers) is MUCH cheaper, measured only in maintenance costs. The internet lines have the same maintenance cost, plus bandwidth costs, on top of base charges.

    Before, they transfered all of the news articles Once, using internet bandwidth once, from their upstream new servers to their own.
    Customers could get these all from their news server, which can happen by any number of customers any number of times and there is no extra bandwidth fees to the ISP.

    Now, all of their users will be transferring news articles from the internet to them, each one taking their share of bandwidth from the internet pipes.

  • Re: alt.binaries.* (Score:3, Informative)

    by QuantumLeaper ( 607189 ) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @05:39PM (#23803615) Journal
    Only the insane would willing switch to Comcast, I was switched to Comcast and my speed dropped and service has been horrible, my friend was off line for 3 days after doing what Comcast told him what to do for fixing his connection problems, and the problem wasn't on his side of the connection. The past 6 months I have had to call them 4 times, and they have yet to give me the correct answer the first time. Three of the times I fixed the problem and had to cancel a service call and the forth time, neither Comcast or me, know why the connection came back.
  • Not necessarily (Score:4, Informative)

    by yabos ( 719499 ) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @07:35PM (#23804475)
    Depending on the number of people that are actually using usenet on any given network, it could still be less bandwidth to have those people use external servers. If Verizon was hosting most of the news groups out there then they are having to transfer a huge amount of data. Wikipedia lists it as >3TB of data per DAY. Verizon is big but I don't believe they could have enough people using usenet to pull that much traffic every day, thus it's probably less traffic for them to have the people that want it to download it from some external server.
  • by Beryllium Sphere(tm) ( 193358 ) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @08:34PM (#23804761) Homepage Journal
    It's like banning possession of ivory. The theory is that by reducing the size of the market you reduce the producers's incentive to harm children.

If I had only known, I would have been a locksmith. -- Albert Einstein