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Censorship Communications The Internet Your Rights Online

Usenet Blocking Intensifies 449

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..."
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Usenet Blocking Intensifies

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  • 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?
  • 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 ;_;
  • 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.

  • Re:AGREED (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cliffiecee ( 136220 ) on Friday July 11, 2008 @10:23PM (#24160995) Homepage Journal

    I mean seriously, do any of these usenet categories contribute anything of value to society???

    Well, you could apply that question to all of Usenet and on average, the answer would be No.

    Besides... if alt.binaries.* gets blocked, the pervs will just move to the rec.* branch, or whatever strikes their fancy. They've done this in the past; they're probably doing it now. In all seriousness, they might as well ban Usenet binary distribution altogether. That's what they're going to have to do if they're serious about going the distance with this.

  • by mikael ( 484 ) on Friday July 11, 2008 @10:45PM (#24161151)

    I gave up reading on USENET around 7 years ago - many of the technical discussion groups became spammed by junk mail and overloaded by students looking for quick solutions to their coursework assignments.

    There was some mystique in dialing up your ISP, hearing than modem connect and see your newsgroups download. Then you could spend an hour or so just reading the world technical news and humour.

  • 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.sex, 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 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 Col Bat Guano ( 633857 ) on Saturday July 12, 2008 @12:16AM (#24161741)
    Go on - you know you want to :-)
  • Re:it's just a cover (Score:2, Interesting)

    by eltaco ( 1311561 ) on Saturday July 12, 2008 @12:26AM (#24161795)
    absolutely. they don't care about some illegal prons - there's no money in it. it's the same old strategy of advancing little steps forward to creepingly achieve their greater goal. influencing the masses by claiming it's to get child pornography out of the net and using that support for their imaginary property cause.
  • Re:Today Usenet (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Saturday July 12, 2008 @12:32AM (#24161847) Homepage Journal
    It's just store-and-forward. Setting up uucp isn't that hard. Setting up uucp and connecting to enough other people to be worthwhile is pretty hard. Even back when usenet was the main thing there were huge gaps in coverage from site to site. UUCP shouldn't care about the underlying protocol, so doing UUCP from node to node over TCP/IP over encrypted tunnels on the Internet would work fine. Or you could go over wireless mesh networks and dedicated site-to-site lines. It's all do-able if you can scare up enough interest. I don't think there will be that much interest, though...
  • 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

  • Re:DISAGREED (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 12, 2008 @01:02AM (#24161979)

    Blocking alt.* doesn't eliminate what they're aiming at.

    Yes it does. It's aimed at blocking warez, MP3z, movies, and TV shows, because that's what the BSA, RIAA, and MPAA have lobbied for.

    It doesn't eliminate what they say their aiming at, but so what? That was never more than a smokescreen for the voters.

  • Re:AGREED (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 12, 2008 @01:51AM (#24162153)

    Even drawings and photoshopped images are considered kid pr0n. Even completely legal porn containing young looking girls has recently put people in prison.

    It's out of control.

    They plan on going after parents too. Soon parents will need training and a license in order to kiss or hug their own children. Doing so without permission will be jail time.
    Search "Government Permission Required For Parents To Kiss Children".

  • 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 slyborg ( 524607 ) on Saturday July 12, 2008 @02:39AM (#24162339)

    Your analysis is retarded.

    Extending your 'logic' just slightly into your preferred medium of wonder and light, the markup Web, we can also swiftly dispense with most websites that aren't TMZ.com since in percentage terms, most of the sites out there are a miniscule portion of 'total Internet users' and thus can be disregarded.

    I'm pretty sure that would include this one.

    I think of USENET to the markup Web as radio was/is to TV.

    Now make my day and followup with a similar brilliant analysis of why radio should be bagged since television allows for services that are _BETTER THAT RADIO_.

  • Re:AGREED (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Monsuco ( 998964 ) on Saturday July 12, 2008 @02:54AM (#24162381) Homepage

    I think this all has to do with judeo-christian cultural values

    You are probably right, but it is odd for Abrahamic religions to develop a taboo surrounding nudity. If you look in the bible, you will find that non-sexual nudity isn't really seen as negative. In fact, Adam and Eve were quite content to walk around naked. This was before there was sin in the world. When Adam and Eve ate from the tree of life, committing the original sin, they suddenly felt bad about nudity. Since the world was without sin before eating from the tree, it is logical to conclude that non-sexual nudity is not sinful (there are Christian nudist groups that promote this view).

  • by westlake ( 615356 ) on Saturday July 12, 2008 @03:09AM (#24162423)
    Remember, the first rule about USENET.
    You don't talk about USENET.....


    Back to the Future:

    Re: Wow.

    "When AOL gained Usenet access people referred to it as "the September that never ended", referring to the fact that there was now a constant influx of clueless newbies"

    But without new blood Usenet ages and dies

    What happens if other ISPs decide that maintaining a news server for a handful of Geeks is no longer worth the trouble?

    AOL Kills USENET Acess [slashdot.org] [posting as westlake January 25, 2005]

    In 2008, I have my answer.

    In June Roadrunner dropped USENET and the event passed with barely a rippple of protest.

    Unlimited USENET in 2008 is Giganews [giganews.com] at $30/mo with encyption.

    Giganews might as well put up a banner add explaining what it is they are really selling. This isn't USENET as an open public forum. It's USENET as a distribution channel for illicit content.

    The stereotypes of the geek are reinforced, he is marginalized a little more.

  • by jez9999 ( 618189 ) on Saturday July 12, 2008 @03:37AM (#24162535) Homepage Journal

    Hey, if they can jail you for smoking a weed and affecting only yourself, or taking a pill and affecting only yourself, why not for taking a piccie?

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

    by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> 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
  • Re:it's just a cover (Score:3, Interesting)

    by KGIII ( 973947 ) <uninvolved@outlook.com> on Saturday July 12, 2008 @04:46AM (#24162811) Journal
    See some of the smaller dialup (yes I said that right) ISPs. I linked to LocalNet a ways down in this topic. Figure 10 bucks a month is unlimited USENET access with 20 simultaneous connections (I think it is that many - haven't needed that many in a while). And, well, you get a secondary ISP to use should you travel or need to test something.
  • by svunt ( 916464 ) on Saturday July 12, 2008 @05:49AM (#24163015) Homepage Journal
    I work for a data processing company in Australia, where I oversee a team of FIVE full-time operators who each spend eight hours a day, five days a week scanning "Working With Children" license applications on behalf of the Department of Justice...every volunteer for sporting, religious, educational etc organisations, schools, daycare centres, you name it! The state I cover has only got a population of 5 million, and these guys can scan in 400 applications an hour EACH...and the backlog grows every...damn...day. The hysteria is everywhere.
  • Re:AGREED (Score:3, Interesting)

    by IntlHarvester ( 11985 ) * on Saturday July 12, 2008 @06:37AM (#24163167) Journal

    Is some of that really 'kiddie porn'? I checked out naturism newsgroup has lots of regular looking folks not engaging in sex and doing regular activities in the nude, I wouldn't exactly call that 'porn', many of them look like family vacation/bbq/get together photos to me IMHO.

    "Naturism" was used as a way to sell nudie mags back in the days when they were illegal in many places.

    Why do you think anyone would want to look at pictures of naked people barbecuing except to arouse themselves? It might be boring, but its still porn.

  • Re:it's just a cover (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nospam007 ( 722110 ) on Saturday July 12, 2008 @08:01AM (#24163449)

    > 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...

    Not to mention my favorite alt.cows.moo.moo.moo

    Perhaps we should create dozens of kinky sex groups in comp, humanities, misc, news, rec, sci, soc, talk
    If we are able to slashdot mighty corporate servers we should be able to create hundreds of those too to show them how idiotic the whole thing is.

    The Usenet Volunteer Votetakers among you should discuss this.

  • by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Saturday July 12, 2008 @08:33AM (#24163579) Homepage Journal
    I wonder, in the US, what is the liability as a private individual of running a newsserver open to the public....I've got boxes I could set up and run, but, could I be held liable for 'bad' content that might be on there? Or do I get the 'common carrier' type protection if I'm just running content through the server?
  • by discord5 ( 798235 ) on Saturday July 12, 2008 @08:39AM (#24163607)

    Or do I get the 'common carrier' type protection if I'm just running content through the server?

    I could write a very long and frustrating comment about "common carriers", but I'll just summarize it : You don't have enough cash nor do you provide enough of a useful service to become a common carrier.

    That's basicly the gist of it.

  • Re:AGREED (Score:5, Interesting)

    by h4rm0ny ( 722443 ) on Saturday July 12, 2008 @11:07AM (#24164317) Journal

    I don't know why there's a flamebait mod on this. I am British, I live here, and I can tell you that there's a ridiculous amount of groundless fear and hysteria in this country. The article saying that they are struggling to find people to work with children because people are terrified someone will think they are a peadophile is spot on. I don't know how this country is in comparison to other countries, so maybe that's where the flamebait comes in, but it seems to me that things are pretty bad here and we need to find a way to make it acceptable to actually like children again and enjoy spending time with them, even when you don't have an "excuse" such as being their parent.
  • by plasmacutter ( 901737 ) on Saturday July 12, 2008 @02:36PM (#24165545)

    Isn't that quote good enough to qualify as defamation. He's basically calling everyone who uses the NTTP protocol a pedophile.

    I personally am incensed.

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. -- Isaac Newton