Andrew Cuomo's Blueprint For How Gov't Can Get ISPs To Censor Content

from the how-gov't-censorship-will-work dept

It looks like NY Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has put forth a nice blueprint for how politicians can "censor" online content without technically breaking a law themselves: just threaten to publicly humiliate ISPs who won't censor for you. The process was quite straightforward actually. Cuomo basically threatened that he would sue these ISPs for not agreeing to his own vendetta against "objectionable content" where a third party -- with no oversight -- gets to determine what's objectionable. Even though there is no legal reason why these ISPs need to block such content, Cuomo made it clear that the publicity around such a lawsuit, implying that the ISPs weren't against such objectionable content, would be a public relations nightmare.

So, one by one ISPs have been caving. Broadband Reports notes that at least two more ISPs have agreed to sign Cuomo's "rules" even if they're not even sure how they'll follow through on them. Of course, as we've pointed out, this is all about politics anyway, as following the "rules" will do absolutely nothing to stop the production or consumption of objectionable content.

Either way, now other politicians have the blueprint for censorship: simply threaten the ISPs that you'll sue them and publicly claim that they're unwilling to be "family friendly" or "protect the children" or any other buzzword.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Dave, Aug 7th, 2008 @ 6:57am

    Censorship

    Hitler also tried to censor what people could read/see/hear. People were outraged and shocked. Where are those people now?

     

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  2.  
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    Truthbringer, Aug 7th, 2008 @ 7:03am

    A political slow death for the stupid . . .

    It kind of fun watching Andrew Cuomo murder his own political ambitions with this type of pandering. The best part really is, five years ago it would have actually worked for him (especially if he combined it with some homophobia or just old fashioned xenophobia).

     

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  3.  
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    Emerson, Aug 7th, 2008 @ 7:04am

    What does a citizen do?

    What does a citizen do, when our rights are abrogated by someone in power with an axe to grind, or an election to win? This action, by the government of a distant state, affects me, in my home. That government has no authority over me. Yet, because of some political grandstanding and extortion, I'm unable to view or read something that someone else finds "objectionable." Now, perhaps the group alt.barney.die.die.die is objectionable to some, but it's not illegal or immoral, and I have every right to participate in that group.

    Where's the EFF or the ACLU?

     

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  4.  
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    mudlock, Aug 7th, 2008 @ 7:17am

    Here's how you fight back:

    When Cuomo's up for re-election, you point out how he's forced ISPs to shut down major Christian religious sites. Remember, alt.religion.christianity is caught under this blanket assault as well! I'm sure you can find your own "good" group to add to the pile.

     

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  5.  
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    JB, Aug 7th, 2008 @ 7:20am

    Hypocrite Test

    We should arrive at his home unannounced and insist on inspecting his IE cache. I wonder what we'll find?

    I mean, how is it that he even knows about these objectionable sites?

     

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  6.  
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    some old guy, Aug 7th, 2008 @ 7:43am

    oh noes!

    I hope this isn't going to affect access to 4chan!

     

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  7.  
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    Dex, Aug 7th, 2008 @ 7:44am

    Should be a familiar tactic

    Politicians have been doing this to each other for as long as there have been politicians. Vote for the FISA bill, or we'll tell everyone you're soft on terror. Not gonna support offshore drilling? Why do you hate America? You say the welfare system has problems? Obviously that's because you don't care about starving children.

    No surprise that they figured out this will work on private companies as well.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Dan, Aug 7th, 2008 @ 7:58am

    I'd go out of my way

    to support any company that calls out Cuomo for being a douche and attempts to discredit them. Unless that company is guilty of even greater douche baggery.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Dan, Aug 7th, 2008 @ 7:58am

    Re: I'd go out of my way

    *him; attempts to discredit him.

     

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  10.  
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    shmengie, Aug 7th, 2008 @ 8:01am

    i believe that children are our future...

    did i ever tell you that you're my hero?
    you are the wind beneath my wings.
    baby's got back.

    huh, don't know how those first three got in there...

     

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  11.  
    icon
    Esahc (profile), Aug 7th, 2008 @ 8:07am

    Slander

    What I don't understand is, if an ISP actually stands up to this guy and he follows through with his threats to falsely sue & drag the companies name through the mud; couldn't the ISPs then sue him, and the state of New York for slander then ask for damages as a result thereof?

    The law dose provide a provision for false & damaging accusations.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    George Orwell, Aug 7th, 2008 @ 8:08am

    What is Objectionable????

    Well, I certainly hope that the third party deciding what objectionable content is supposed to be, realizes that it is objectionable and against free rights that us Muslims are being presecuted by Western Christian religion morals and decadent improper values of how a person should be able to die for their beliefs.

    Allah be praised. Maybe they will finally clamp down on those persecuting free rights and religion.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 7th, 2008 @ 8:12am

    Re: What is Objectionable????

    Please, go find a nice place to blow yourself up. Praise Allah!

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 7th, 2008 @ 8:56am

    Re: oh noes!

    how many times has this kind of crap happened before? 4chan always pulls through

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    frouper, Aug 7th, 2008 @ 8:59am

    Cablevision To Block NetNews

    Newsday reports in a story by Danny Teigman, “Cablevision joins ISPs blocking child porn sites”, that Cablevision will block NetNews:

    Cablevision will also block newsgroups, which are public discussion boards that allow potential predators to send links to child porn and child sex trafficking Web sites.

    This is confirmed by a press release by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo

    Today, Cuomo announced that Cablevision has also agreed to move immediately to block customers’ access to online child pornography and to completely block access to any child porn Newsgroups. These agreements will help close off a major source for online porn, especially on Long Island.

    This is sure to knock another big dent into that depraved child pornography 'froup: alt.sewing.

    Go Cuomo! Go! Stomp out alt.sewing! Sewing is teh evil!

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Elohssa, Aug 7th, 2008 @ 9:18am

    Not binding.

    The ISP are not legally bound here. They can agree in principle to defuse Coumo, and then do nothing.

    If they do act on this, then their customers should move away. ISP's don't have monopolys yet, so we can still hurt their bottom line.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    steve-a-roonie, Aug 7th, 2008 @ 9:18am

    Yes, typical liberal Democrats showing their Facist, Hitler-like traits of cencorship, et al, while they convince their sheepish followers that is the Right whom are the evil ones.
    Wake up sheeple er, people.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Michial, Aug 7th, 2008 @ 9:29am

    Extortion

    Wouldn't the ISP's have a legitimate case for filing charges of extortion against this guy? And since he is in State Government wouldn't his actions fall under federal rule?

     

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  19.  
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    WG, Aug 7th, 2008 @ 9:35am

    Cuomo is an attention whore

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 7th, 2008 @ 9:38am

    Yeah, yeah , yeah

    Just ignore that retard Coumo, they have no reason to abide by what they sign it's not binding in any way. Just play him like you would your wife who keeps nagging you to do some stupid little task, "Yes dear I will get right on it!"

     

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  21.  
    icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), Aug 7th, 2008 @ 9:56am

    Re: Not binding.

    ISP's dont have a monopoly?
    Where I am at it is dial-up or Comcast. That is about it.
    It is the same for many many places around the US.
    And by same I mean dial-up or one broadband provider.

     

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  22.  
    icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), Aug 7th, 2008 @ 9:59am

    Re:

    Re Steve-a-loonie
    This guy is a Democrat?
    Shouldn't the republicans be thanking him then? I mean with that whole Mark Foley thing and all.

    Dude, which side this guy hails from doesn't mean crap. For every truly evil democrat, there is an evil republican, and vice versa. Unless one side obviously has more people in office at one point in time, then the sides may be a little uneven.

    And judging the anger in your post, you may want to seek counseling. That kind of anger will take years off your life if left unresolved.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    snowburn14, Aug 7th, 2008 @ 11:19am

    Re: Censorship

    They weren't there then either. You really think other countries went to war with him over censorship? Are you kidding? Yes, censorship is often associated with history's "bad guys", but it's pretty rare that it's the main reason they're considered "bad". You might want to look to the McCarthy era for something a little more relevant. Then again, it was a while before anyone was shocked and outraged then, either.
    Personally, I think you'll be waiting a long time before the majority is up in arms over someone's attempt to get rid of child porn. However misguided and, imo, stupid his attempt, that's his supposed goal. Tough to detract from his attempt without looking like you're on the wrong side of that argument. But as someone mentioned, that's politics I suppose.

     

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  24.  
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    Ginetta, Aug 7th, 2008 @ 11:31am

    Blueprint for...

    Total censorship or paid content?
    Start with a few darling buzzwords / phrases like childporn, terrorism, lack of family values and bad bad internet.
    Use that as your platform for passing a bill that will change the role of your local isp from service provider to content management (CMISP?). ISPs then create a walled garden (anyone ever use AOL?).
    This new role will allow them to target their customers with more than the pipe and / or services such as email and web space. Channel partnerships content driven service.
    Ask yourself if you are willing to give up the way you surf and play online for the channel approach similar to your tv channels. They supply you with what they want you to see based on their marketing strategies and channel alliances / advertising.

    Not only are they going to silence you with content management (how easy will it be to speak your mind in a blog then?) but they will supply you with the garbage they
    want you to see / interact with.

    I wonder where Cuomo is investing his money these days?
    He's hardly an idiot and to assume that would be very wrong.
    The real reason he is playing this game will become ever clearer as we watch our ISPs evolve.

    Ginetta

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    DS78, Aug 7th, 2008 @ 12:08pm

    But...

    If ISPs actually don't filter anything after agreeing to this, because they most likely won't.

    Who is going to check up on them? Probably not Cuomo, or any of his staff. Are they going to pay a 3rd party to check up on the ISPs with tax payer money? Hopefully not!

    What are they going to to do if they don't filter anything after all. Tell them again that they to filter this "objectionable content"?

    I don't really see how this is DOING much of anything. He must be part of a branded community.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 7th, 2008 @ 12:10pm

    Re: Blueprint for...

    To say that Andrew Cuomo is too smart to make this completely obvious pandering move simply for political gain, may be a good point. However, I think saying it’s all part of his plan to mold the future of content delivery over the web in a fashion that he sees as most economically advantageous to his future plans, might be over estimating him to some degree. I don’t disagree with your view for ISP motivation, I just think he is more a “stooge” or a "tool" here than anything else. He’s really just not all that bright . . . seriously.

     

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  27.  
    icon
    Trails (profile), Aug 7th, 2008 @ 12:22pm

    What I wanna know

    Where the hell are the ACLU and EFF on this?

    They should be killing this guy in the press and in the courts for pulling this shit. It's a blatant abuse of his powers, especially if he's spending tax payer money to sue/threaten to sue the ISP's.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 7th, 2008 @ 12:37pm

    Re: Re: Blueprint for...

    I would have to agree with a majority of what Ginetta said. I do think Cuomo is very sharp. I would find it hard to believe that so many sources are aware what he is doing is pro-hibited by the First Amendmnet, yet Cuomo has absolutely no clue.

    It appears to me that Cuomo is just simply testing the waters. He wants to see how effective his bullying technique works. If he accomplishes his goal by bullying ISP's he considers it a victory.

    If the ISP's fight him on this he will attack with PR damage and legal bills. But the main focus of the attack will be to win the support of the public. If he gets the majority of the public (60% or higher public support). He should then have the democratic armor to make serious changes. His buddy Elliot Spitzer used to thrive at this kind of thing.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    frouper, Aug 7th, 2008 @ 12:53pm

    Responsibility

    In New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's first press release regarding his initiative, on June 10, 2008, Attorney General Cuomo's office quoted Time Warner Cable Senior Vice President and Chief Ethics Officer Jeff Zimmerman. In that press release Time Warner clearly announced its move to kill NetNews:

    ... Among the steps Time Warner Cable is taking are removing Newsgroups from our Internet service....

    In that very same press release, Attorney General Cuomo provided his own quotes for the press. He applauded Time Warner's move to kill its NetNews service:

    Attorney General Cuomo said, “I applaud Verizon, Time Warner Cable, and Sprint for working with my office to address this growing problem. These companies are leading the industry and instituting new and innovative ways to stop their service from being used by people looking to distribute and access child pornography. I call on all Internet Service Providers to follow their example and help deter the spread of online child porn.”

    In addition, in that same press release, Attorney General Cuomo said, “I commend the companies that have stepped up today to embrace a new standard of responsibility, which should serve as a model for the entire industry.”

    More recently, a July 31, 2008 story, “Internet providers purge porn sites”, by Delen Goldberg, quoted Attorney General Cuomo attempting to evade responsibility for the acts of his office:

    Cuomo said he never intended for companies to take down all of their newsgroups. He just wanted the child porn sites gone, he said.

    "There was no reason for them to eliminate all the newsgroups unless they wanted to," Cuomo said Wednesday.

    Attorney General Cuomo knew that Time Warner was killing its NetNews service. He knew. Attorney General Cuomo “applauded” and “commended” Time Warner for killing NetNews. He approved. And he is conscious of his own guilt.

    Attorney General Cuomo must be held responsible for the actual, known and forseen consequences of his official actions.

    This isn't some “new standard of responsibility”. Attorney General Cuomo has actively applied pressure to ISPs to get them to kill NetNews. And despite seeing the consequences, he continues to actively apply pressure. He intended —and still intends— the results of his voluntary acts.

    Attorney General Cuomo intends to kill NetNews.

     

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  30.  
    icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), Aug 7th, 2008 @ 1:08pm

    Re: Responsibility

    Re #29
    I get it!
    NetNews made fun of his mom didn't they? And now he is trying to back any way he can. Thats why.

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 7th, 2008 @ 1:35pm

    Re: Blueprint for...

    Maybe he's doing this to keep the cops from finding out that he's a child pornographer. Wouldn't be the first time that someone, who's really part of the problem, pretended to be part of the solution, so as to avoid detection.

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 7th, 2008 @ 2:24pm

    Re: Re: Blueprint for...

    As in that other NY joker, Elliott Spitzer? The one who was zealously against prostitution?

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    John Duncan Yoyo, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 12:57am

    Re: Re: Re: Blueprint for...

    Spitzer at least did something useful. His challenges to corporations did things that needed to be done with the current management ignoring corporate crime.

    Cuomo shows his lack of understanding of the intertweb. I buy newsgroups separately now. I suspect that the comcast decision by the FCC would actually prevent any provider from blocking third party usenet.

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 6:02am

    Re: Re: Re: Blueprint for...

    Or all the Republicans scared to death of gays that then get busted in mens rooms LOL its the Gay Ole Party alright hehe

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    frouper, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 7:00am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Blueprint for...

    I buy newsgroups separately now. I suspect that the comcast decision by the FCC would actually prevent any provider from blocking third party usenet.

    Are you buying newsgroup access in dollars or euros?

    “We are in effect starting a technological arms race that we've got to have the will and the resolve to see through,” said Bill Stewart, deputy chief of staff for Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum. “Once we tackle U.S. Internet service providers, this traffic will move to another venue.” —Moves target Internet child porn, by Helen Huntley, St. Petersburg Times, June 11, 2008.

    Dude, these people are “starting a technological arms race”. Your newsgroup access is acceptable collateral damage to NY AG Andrew Cuomo and his ilk. When legal arguments won't stop him, then what's the FCC going to do?

    AGs and prosecutors are authoritarians. They simply cannot tolerate an unregulated venue for speech. Someone has to be in control. And that's why they believe usenet is dangerous. Intolerably dangerous.

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 7:09am

    >ISP's don't have monopolys yet, so we can still hurt their bottom line.

    You're incorrect.

     

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  37.  
    identicon
    Chandler B, Sep 7th, 2008 @ 12:34pm

    Cuomo is the one who needs to show full disclosure and tranparency. His tactics are deceptive the way he trys to strong-arm everyone. He takes pleasure in bullying others to come around to his way of thinking. Many people point out that he's working on the child porn cases because it gives him the opportunity to continuously look at kiddie porn for his own pleasure.

     

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  38.  
    identicon
    Rae Brown, Jan 24th, 2009 @ 2:51am

    CENSORSHIP

    Who do you think you are Mr.attorney general andrew cuomo??? Notice i did not spell your title or name in Caps? Every man and woman in our military, past, present, and future (including my own grandson next year and my dad in WWII) have and will continue to fight for MY RIGHT to read whatever I wish in a book, in a magazine, in a newspaper, on the internet, or in any other content I wish to read...which also includes watching, looking at, observing, or in any other action I wish to utilize to look at> WHAT EVER THAT MAY OR MAY NOT BE, YOU DO NOT have the right to force ANYONE in anyway, shape or form, with bogus threats of suit, that would in any way orchestrate or encourage them by "Mob-like" tactics to take my rights away from me. I have and will always have the FREEDOM to read or watch ANYTHING I please in any venue...There are people in our schools, scum just like you, that are trying to change how or if we honor our great country by discouraging our children and grandchildren to salute our flag and pledge our allegience every morning in their classrooms, take down crosses, take out God's name on our money, and in our courtrooms.....This nation was built on Christian values and men and women have payed the ultimate price and will again to protect YOURS and my rights...to ensure we never have to live by the "rules and so called laws" of men like you....Hilter tried it, and many others like him, and look where it got them....There have been bigger men(use that term lightly) that have tried to take our God-given rights and they have fallen just like you will..It's not difficult to find out names and address of your contributors...They will see the kind of person they are following....They will see a copy of this letter and MANY MANY others....They will read statements like, "Do you really want to support someone like this??" Do you know how to spell RE-ELECTION??? Sincerely, A citizen who believes in what my dad fought for, what my grandson, will fight for...Think about it!!!

     

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