Comcast Caves To Cuomo

from the seems-like-extortion dept

Remember last week, when NY Attorney General Andrew Cuomo threatened Comcast with a lawsuit, if it didn't start blocking access to a list of "objectionable" content? It was quite clear that Cuomo's threat had no legal basis -- as the law is quite clear that, as a service provider, Comcast is not responsible for what happens on the network -- but Cuomo stated (just as clearly) that he would sue anyway, and associate Comcast in peoples' minds with objectionable content. Unfortunately, it looks like the bullying threat worked: Comcast has agreed to support Cuomo's proposal. There's simply no legal basis for this, and it opens up a seriously slippery slope in saying that ISPs can block access to "objectionable" content. Yet, apparently, it's just not worth it to stand up against politicians who want to paint you as a supporter of child porn, even if that's completely ridiculous.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 30th, 2008 @ 5:43am

    I a world where politicians are usually owned by corporations - instead of the other way around as is seemingly the case here - this is oddly satisfying...

     

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  2.  
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    Bill G, Jul 30th, 2008 @ 6:01am

    Actually I would tend to think that this sentor is a supportor of child porn and wants his sources to be harder to find

     

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  3.  
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    Child Protector, Jul 30th, 2008 @ 6:15am

    Protect the kiddies...

    I'm all for protecting the kiddies. But let's face it... there are ways around EVERYTHING. The person can go to an anonymizer site and surf from there without fear of censorship. Chances are... they already do this.

    What worries me is ALWAYS what worries me when government tries to "protect" us. WHO will be the determiner of "objectionable" material?!

     

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  4.  
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    Ceyarrecks, Jul 30th, 2008 @ 6:16am

    so what,..?

    so I guess all state Dept of Transportation are now somehow responsible for all the bank robbers who drive in their getaway cars on the state roads from the bank heist?


    how about accountability to the person/group who is HOSTING said objectionable content?


    perhaps the makers of the CAT5/6 Ethernet and fiber optic cables used to connect the network equipment should be sued too, huh?

     

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  5.  
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    Walter K, Jul 30th, 2008 @ 6:19am

    Comcast Caves to Cuomo

    I am opposed to Child Porn however this kind of overt control can lead to other restrictions. Next we will only be allowed to see "approved" web sites. We are getting closer all the time to BIG BROTHER is "watching you".
    I see that we have 4 options:
    1. Allow this dictater to destroy our freedoms
    2. Begin a grassroots lawsuite against Comcast for censorship including Cuomo.
    3. Push the FCC to be sure that there is available competition in each area (same high speed connections)
    4. Vote - Drop Comcast

     

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  6.  
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    Skippy T. Mut, Jul 30th, 2008 @ 6:29am

    Oh Shit!!!

    We're all in a lot of trouble. I wonder how long before TechDirt becomes "objectionable" content! I mean we're doing a pretty good job of bashing Cuomo (and rightfully so). I'm sure he would object to that thus making the site objectionable. Say goodbye to your freedoms folks...the government is here to protect you from them! What a crock of shit! The founding fathers have to be turning over in their graves at this point.

    I'm all for protecting the children. But I'm also a big supporter of common sense and logic. I know its a lot to ask a "politician" to have those 2 qualities, but is it too much to at least ask him to pull his head out of his ass? Let me make clearer for you on the off chance that he actually reads this:

    CUOMO'S PLAN IS ILLEGAL AND DOES MORE TO HURT PEOPLE THAN HELP THEM!

    Thank you...i'm going to go have a memorial service for my civil rights now.

     

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  7.  
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    Skippy T. Mut, Jul 30th, 2008 @ 6:31am

    Oh, and another thing...

    The folks over at comcast...pussies! the whole lot of 'em. they need to grow themselves a set and start standing up for the people paying them for (shitty) services.

     

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  8.  
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    AJ, Jul 30th, 2008 @ 6:31am

    Great Firewall of America

    I hate the kiddy porn as much as the next guy, but I don't think opening that door (allowing someone else to decide what is objectionable) is the best idea ever.
    We point fingers at China, and growl no censorship, yet here we are doing the same thing? So if China says they are doing it for "the children" then its ok.......right? I mean child porn, then its political discontent, government conspiracy theorists, and lets toss in green peace.. if we open that door, it won't ever stop.

     

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  9.  
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    Jack, Jul 30th, 2008 @ 6:36am

    Let's have us a book burnin'!

    The danger here is the people trying to do the "protecting" don't understand the internet - at all. They don't know that there are ways around getting to the content and that once they open pandora's box on this the internet will be under attack until all you can get to is Google, but none of the search results.

     

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  10.  
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    Jim Jones, Jul 30th, 2008 @ 6:40am

    IMPEACH CUOMO

    WTF is this guy thinking?!? Next he'll want all content that speaks badly of him blocked. Someone has to sue Cuomo over this. Of course we don't want child porn. But starting this kind of censorship leads to things far far worse. F him for pulling this shit. Cuomo hates freedom. He wants us all to live in a state censored by the Government. Get Cuomo out! And F Comcast to caving into this idiot. They're all fascists now.

     

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  11.  
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    Matt Bennett, Jul 30th, 2008 @ 6:41am

    Well, it's a bad deal all around. But I have trouble weeping for Comcast, who I hate with a passion.

     

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  12.  
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    Michial, Jul 30th, 2008 @ 6:47am

    No mention of Kiddie Porn in this Article

    Y'all jumped on the meaning of objectionable material as meaning Kiddie Porn. There is no mention of Kiddie Porn by the writer or by Coumo.

    Comcast has been censoring your content for years, and they have been doing it quietly and silently. This article only stands out because this fool (cuomo) has asked them to censor what they consider too much content.

    Think about it if it wasn't for people surfing the web for porn the web would be a small fraction of it's current size. Comcast is smart enough to realize that when they start blocking everyday porn they will begin losing their customer base even faster than they already are.

     

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  13.  
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    BTR1701, Jul 30th, 2008 @ 6:55am

    Re:

    > I a world where politicians are usually
    > owned by corporations - instead of the other
    > way around as is seemingly the case here -
    > this is oddly satisfying...

    > I have trouble weeping for Comcast, who I
    > hate with a passion.

    All of you who seem to be gloating about Comcast folding under pressure here ought to remember that this doesn't actually affect Comcast in a negative way at all. It's not Comcast's rights that are being trampled. It's the rights of all of Comcast's customers. They're the ones who have just lost access to reams of perfectly legitimate content because of Cuomo's overbroad threat. For Comcast it's just a collectively shrug of the shoulders and a flip of the switch, then back to business.

     

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  14.  
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    Dave, Jul 30th, 2008 @ 7:01am

    More political stupidity

    As a typical politician, he knows nothing about technology. So he simply aims at the biggest target in order to score maximum political points with the ignorant with as little effort as possible.

    So Comcast's lack of merit aside, this is just another grandstanding, ineffective move. And best of all, this sort of thing will probably lead to more censorship.

     

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  15.  
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    Ralph, Jul 30th, 2008 @ 7:08am

    Re: No mention of Kiddie Porn in this Article

    . . . if it wasn't for people surfing the web for porn the web would be a small fraction of it's current size.

    Do you have some facts you can point to that prove this ludicrous claim? Or are you just flapping your ass-jaws?

     

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  16.  
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    Josh Martin, Jul 30th, 2008 @ 7:13am

    Is this even legal?

    Is it even legal for the AG in New York to determine what I can or can't access over the internet, when I live in a distant state? I don't think so, and it should only be a matter of time before the citizens of every state that's not NY form a class-action suit against the state of NY and the AG. There are 49 states, with approximately 90% of the US population, who are affected by this extortion (and it is extortion), yet are not governed by the AG of the state of NY. He has no business in my affairs, and no authority to interject himself into them.

     

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  17.  
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    SomeLittleGuy, Jul 30th, 2008 @ 7:13am

    So, lets sue

    Everytime something like this happens, especially stemming from a "public official", we should get together and file a class action lawsuit against them. Grounds?

    1) abuse of power - Cuomo should know full well (and probably did) that there is no legal backing for what he was threatening to do. He had a personal agenda and he abused the system to get what he wanted

    2) treason against the US for using his power (see point 1) that undermines the freedoms of America and the constitution of the United states which he is a member of

     

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  18.  
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    P*SSED OFF COMCAST CUSTOMER, Jul 30th, 2008 @ 7:42am

    You mean there are Comcast Customers who have reliable enough connections to view objectionable content?

    Believe me, ANYONE who is viewing porn or any other large files on a regular basis via their Comcast account is already having their access to the internet "shaped".

    Can you say "Pagewash.com"? You can if you're a Comcast customer!

    As long as "objectionable" content = bandwidth consumption, believe me Mr. Cuomo, it's already being "screened".

     

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  19.  
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    DanC, Jul 30th, 2008 @ 7:48am

    Re: No mention of Kiddie Porn in this Article

    Y'all jumped on the meaning of objectionable material as meaning Kiddie Porn. There is no mention of Kiddie Porn by the writer or by Coumo.

    The web site Cuomo uses to promote this proposal is http://www.nystopchildporn.com. He also has a list of sites that have not "signed agreements with the Attorney General's Office to stop online child pornography", the implication being that they are indifferent to the problem.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 30th, 2008 @ 7:53am

    Comcast's PR Spinzone

    Comcast engineered the deal where the NCTA agreed to NCMEC censoship.

    The flap with Cuomo was just a PR smokescreen, designed to clean up Comcast's image among people who care about the government shutting down alt.support.diabetes.

     

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  21.  
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    Cunk, Jul 30th, 2008 @ 8:21am

    Comcast can't get a break

    So one week Comcast is getting in trouble for blocking traffic and the next they're being threatened for not blocking traffic.

     

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  22.  
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    x, Jul 30th, 2008 @ 8:46am

    Federal Censorship Agency

    The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) “is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization” “established by Congress in 1984.” According to its latest published annual report, the NCMEC receives the bulk of its funding from congressional appropriations. For the calendar year ending December 31, 2006, the NCMEC's “unrestricted” revenue from federal funds amounted to about $36 million (p.31 / p.33 in PDF). These federal funds are budgeted and administered through the Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Protection.

    On June 3, 2008, Mr. Bush signed the “Protecting Our Children Comes First Act of 2007” (Public Law 110-240). This act amends 42 U.S.C. § 5773, and increases the authorized funding for the NCMEC for FY 2008 to $40 million.

    This is the net censorship agency.

     

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  23.  
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    P, Jul 30th, 2008 @ 9:04am

    Ridiclious

    Dont get me wrong I think that Child Porn shouldnt be accessable but this is a very slipperly slope, soong you might have movie and music companies reuqesting to block access to file sharing sites

     

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  24.  
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    scotus, Jul 30th, 2008 @ 9:17am

    Bantam Books, Inc. v. Sullivan, 372 U.S. 58 (1963)

    MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN delivered the opinion of the Court.

    The Rhode Island Legislature created the "Rhode Island Commission to Encourage Morality in Youth," whose members and Executive Secretary are the appellees herein....

    ... The Commission's practice has been to notify a distributor on official Commission stationery that certain designated books or magazines distributed by him had been reviewed by the Commission and had been declared by a majority of its members to be objectionable for sale, distribution or display to youths under 18 years of age....

    The typical notice to Silverstein either solicited or thanked Silverstein, in advance, for his "cooperation" with the Commission, usually reminding Silverstein of the Commission's duty to recommend to the Attorney General prosecution of purveyors of obscenity....

    What Rhode Island has done, in fact, has been to subject the distribution of publications to a system of prior administrative restraints, since the Commission is not a judicial body and its decisions to list particular publications as objectionable do not follow judicial determinations that such publications may lawfully be banned. Any system of prior restraints of expression comes to this Court bearing a heavy presumption against its constitutional validity. See Near v. Minnesota; Lovell v. City of Griffin; Schneider v. New Jersey; Cantwell v. Connecticut; Niemotko v. Maryland; Kunz v. New York; Staub v. City of Baxley. We have tolerated such a system only where it operated under judicial superintendence and assured an almost immediate judicial determination of the validity of the restraint. Kingsley Books, Inc. v. Brown. The system at bar includes no such saving features. On the contrary, its capacity for suppression of constitutionally protected publications is far in excess of that of the typical licensing scheme held constitutionally invalid by this Court. There is no provision whatever for judicial superintendence before notices issue or even for judicial review of the Commission's determinations of objectionableness. The publisher or distributor is not even entitled to notice and hearing before his publications are listed by the Commission as objectionable. Moreover, the Commission's statutory mandate is vague and uninformative, and the Commission has done nothing to make it more precise. Publications are listed as "objectionable," without further elucidation. The distributor is left to speculate whether the Commission considers this publication obscene or simply harmful to juvenile morality. For the Commission's domain is the whole of youthful morals. Finally, we not that although the Commission's supposed concern is limited to youthful readers, the "cooperation" it seeks from distributors invariably entails the complete suppression of the listed publications; adult readers are equally deprived of the opportunity to purchase the publications in the State. Cf. Butler v. Michigan.

    The procedures of the Commission are radically deficient.

    ....

    Bantam Books, Inc. v. Sullivan, 372 U.S. 58 (1963).

     

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  25.  
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    Abdul, Jul 30th, 2008 @ 9:32am

    Re: Comcast can't get a break

    This just shows how fickle readers can be! I feel pity with the ISPs these days! What really do we expect them to do now? I think the best way out is to zone the internet as this article is suggesting: Zoning the Internet to Protect Children(http://www.internetevolution.com/author.asp?section_id=621&doc_id=151294&F_src=flft wo)

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 30th, 2008 @ 9:45am

    Now I am all against child abuse. But there are better ways to censor this, say, catch the %!$@! that are making it. Cut off the source makers/distributors ,it will slow down and possibly stop the content.

    Regardless isn't Comcast about to possibly get hit with a "traffic shaping" suit soon? Now I understand the difference, but aren't they both traffic shaping? And who gets to decide whats objectionable? And who is looking at this crap to determine it any way?

    Once again, I in no way endorse child abuse on the internet, but there must be a better way, ie go after the sickos making/distributing it, if you don't stop them, it'll still continue, it'll just be "blocked" to some extent. And some other more hidden route will be used (encrypted torrents, email, etc).

     

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  27.  
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    Grae, Jul 30th, 2008 @ 1:00pm

    @26: Stop spamming this article link.

    Cheryl B. Preston is certainly well versed in law, but she is obviously not a technologist, and even if she were she would require knowledge of how TCP/IP works as well general concept of how applications use it in order to make an informed statement how ports should be used.

    The idea of legally requiring ISPs to serve specific content over specific ports, and provide separate tiers of service to customers that limit access to port ranges based on the tier purchased is as ludicrous as creating a .xxx top level domain and requiring all porn sites to migrate their domains to it.

    Why is it acceptable to infringe on the freedom of the people for a (laughable) attempt at protecting them from themselves?

     

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  28.  
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    Grae, Jul 30th, 2008 @ 1:03pm

    Re:

    Typo'd that... meant to put @25.

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 30th, 2008 @ 1:04pm

    Mike

    Mike, it is not surprising to see the position you've taken here. After all, it's well know that people named Mike are pedophiles.

     

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  30.  
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    Kevin, Jul 30th, 2008 @ 1:19pm

    Welcome to China,

    Seems like you all may be headed to an inheritance of China's strict internet censorship. Oddly enough they'll be opening up there internet soon, while you Yanks may be locking it down.

    Mind you, us Canucks have our own ISP problems also.

    Concerning to say the least.

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    kevjohn, Jul 30th, 2008 @ 1:30pm

    Good to know who you can count on. No one.

    I, for one, am completely against child porn. There are plenty of 18 year olds out there ready and willing to get naked, leave the kids alone.

    This is not Comcastic. Not at all. If there was another provider in my area that had half the speed of those bastards, I'd dump them like... a washed up 20-yead old porn star.

     

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  32.  
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    teknosapien, Jul 30th, 2008 @ 1:38pm

    how long

    until a first amendment counter suite is filed

     

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  33.  
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    another mike, Jul 30th, 2008 @ 1:40pm

    copyright infringement and other objectionable material

    Since we are now safe from the scourge of pr0n on the internet (say that out loud with a straight face), how long until we can be protected from all other objectionable material? The kiddie stuff is so easy to find so copyright infringing material must also be readily identifiable. Despite not being able to do anything about it before, it will become the ISP's responsibility to remove all copyright infringement.
    I wonder if we can turn this page into a googlebomb. Cuomo supports child pornography by making it impossible to prosecute offenders.

     

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  34.  
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    WG, Jul 30th, 2008 @ 3:59pm

    Cuomo is nothing more than an attention whore

    Personally, I think this idiot ought to be yanked out of office for, what appears to be, a personal agenda hiding behind the pretext of 'save the poor children' bullshit.
    Methinks he feels his waning spotlight and decided to recast the light upon himself, at whatever cost to whomever he aims his pencil-dick mentality at. Sorry for the rant.

     

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  35.  
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    Dan, Jul 30th, 2008 @ 6:20pm

    This is a classic example of why we need to elect politicians who "get technology". Almost being able to open a browser by yourself or having a blackberry girl just won't do.

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    دردشة, Jul 8th, 2009 @ 6:37am

    think this idiot ought to be yanked out of office for

     

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