Andrew Cuomo Threatens To Sue Comcast If It Doesn't Sign Up For His Plan To Pretend To Fight Child Porn

from the grandstanding dept

Last month, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo made some news by pressuring a bunch of ISPs to agree to block certain sites in a totally misguided effort to fight child porn. It will actually do the opposite, because it merely hides the issue, driving it further underground, rather than attacking at the source. At the same time, it opens up a very questionable door: having ISPs blocking any content that they feel is “objectionable” in some manner. It’s not hard to predict where this goes, in terms of ISPs blocking other types of content as well.

Comcast was one of the companies that agreed last week to a similar proposal with a bunch of state attorneys general, but apparently that’s not enough for Andrew Cuomo. He’s now threatening to sue Comcast within five days if it doesn’t sign the more stringent “code of conduct” that Cuomo wrote up. Apparently Cuomo doesn’t think last week’s agreement goes far enough.

Of course, what’s odd is that nowhere does Cuomo explain how Comcast’s actions violate the law. He just threatens to sue over it — and even makes a veiled threat that the lawsuit alone will be damaging to Comcast, because Cuomo will position it as Comcast protecting child porn:

Comcast’s unwillingness to sign the code of conduct and purge its system of child pornography puts Comcast at the back of the pack in the race to fight this scourge, and would likely be surprising to Comcast’s millions of customers across the country.

The reason Cuomo doesn’t explain what the legal rationale for any lawsuit, is because there isn’t one. Comcast as a connectivity provider is not responsible for what content goes across its network. Cuomo (one would hope) knows this — and is bullying Comcast into signing his “Code of Conduct” by threatening to paint the company as protecting child porn. That’s a rather sickening abuse of power — and the end result will only be to make it more difficult to stop child pornography, while opening the door to widespread content blocking by ISPs.

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Companies: comcast

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Comments on “Andrew Cuomo Threatens To Sue Comcast If It Doesn't Sign Up For His Plan To Pretend To Fight Child Porn”

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49 Comments
Danny says:

Cuomo steps over the line

I’ve followed Andrew Cuomo’s career since college (we shared some friends, so I knew of him back then), thus have been pre-disposed to favor him as his career has progressed. Clearly he has aspirations past AG to Governor or beyond.

And clearly this anti-child porn crusade, while most everyone agrees child porn is very bad stuff, is political positioning to move his career forward.

But, for me, he is crossing the line (OK, he long ago crossed it, but it didn’t get my attention) by going after Comcast.

As Mike keeps writing, this crusade does little to actually impact child porn. But I use Comcast; and now that his crusade threatens to either [a] make my cable/internet service more expensive, [b] limit some of my (non-child porn) options, or [c] both, his silly (silly because it doesn’t impact actual child porn) crusade is impacting my life in the negative.

And as career positioning move, Cuomo is about to see some push back.

w00zzy says:

Re: Government Abuses

You are weak minded. As I haven’t agreed with everything Bush has done, at least he’s trying to protect your right to make stupid comments like that. Why don’t you post proof of the claims you make. Oh yea, there isn’t any. You are a mental midget.

As to Cuomo, he is an elitest like most people in his position. Like was said above, look at Spitzer’s ordeal.

Anonymous Coward says:

Stupid

This is so stupid, by blocking these sites they only inhibit the the trafficking of child porn, and only for a short time until another medium is worked out. IF they actually want to stop child porn leave the site up and start tracing IPs of who is uploading and downloading the content and arrest them, or would that be too much like actual work and an actual effort to do something worthwhile?

Thom says:

Pepper cable with anti-cuomo ads

Let Cuomo push too far and watch Comcast fill up with anti-Cuomo ads touting his inadequacies, his failures, and his flawed reasoning… oh and notice of a coming 10% cost increase to implement the filtering that prevents nothing. Cuomo will quickly be begging Comcast not to implement any filtering, or he’ll watch his political career go down the tubes.

Liquid says:

It should be the job of the ISP in the first place to tell you where you can, and cannot go… The full responsibility should be solely directed towards the end users… If they look at child porn then they should be the ones to get into trouble… Not the ISP’s because they failed to block that content from the end user…

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Comcast Cast As the Victim?

If only Cuomo actually read forums like this. I have the feeling that, like most who attack the Internet or new technology, he has no idea how it works.

I think Danny above’s right, unfortunately – he doesn’t care about the issue, it’s just a hot button to press to appear to be doing something. He can ignore criticism and paint opponents as being “for” child porn, while having a nice soundbite or two to put on his political resume. In his world, who cares if anything he’s doing makes things any better or worse as long as he looks good?

Sadly, that’s the level of American politics.

Anonymous Coward says:

the big problem is that there is already a haven for that kind of stuff. it is called Freenet, you can use wikipedia or other tools to look it up. it, put simply, is the internet shared like bit torrent. every viewer also stores a part of a copy of freenet on their system, all information is encrypted in a way that is extremely difficult to determine not only what it is, but where it came from.

and because of the way it works, it is practically impossible to kill it. it can use HTTP, so the encrypted traffic looks like a secure website visit and since the nodes are decentralized you can only kill them off one-by-one.

SpecialCase says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

1: And how exactly does this “walled garden” approach keep kids safe? We already tried (and failed) to get all adult material moved to the .xxx TLD. As I understand the article, this approach just moves the parental controls to the server (ISP) side instead of the current client-side filtering software approach through creating port filtering.

2: Who decides what material is “appropriate” for children? Is there some “content advisory board” like ESRB or MPAA that will rate sites accordingly? Serious First Amendment issues exist here.

Anonymous Coward says:

Manipulation Through Insult

A few years ago you could ruin a career or denounce a person by accusing them of not being patriotic and that censure was applied liberally to silence or discredit critics. For example, this technique was used on the Dixie Chicks because they didn’t agree with the actions of their President and it took their employment from them for daring to speak out.

Now that the patriotism tactic has lost its effect, a new method has showed up. Today we can vilify by accusing the target of supporting child porn just because they see our freedoms being eroded.

Censorship didn’t make the actions of the government any more worthy by suppressing the opposing views, and censorship likewise won’t make the InterWeb any safer by suppressing overt child porn and forcing the purveyors to encrypt it.

Accusing Comcast of supporting child porn, however, is much more blatantly ridiculous than accusing the Dixie Chicks of failing to be sufficiently patriotic, so we can hope their customers will see through this bogosity and thereby, Cuomo will have shot his career in the foot with it.

bobbknght says:

A liberal With Delusions of Grandeur

Mario’ little boy Andrew is very similar to the big what hit FLA back in Aug. of 1992. A big bad a wind that only leaves ruin in it’s wake.
The trouble is that ol’ Andy boy wants to be President some day and he thinks this will help him. You see he has an inferiority complex when it comes to daddy.
Plus he’s a leftest liberal that wants to tell you and me what we can do, say and see. He wants control.
I say go on and watch my new hair cut and rick roll on youtube and don’t do a damn thing to complain to your elected idiots.

i_hate_ny says:

Is this only about child porn

or does the **AA have a hand in this also? RoadRunner didn’t want to deal with the headache and just went and stopped their Usenet services.

Which makes me wonder if the **AA isn’t involved in this somehow. Coumo’s yelling child porn is like bush yelling terror, it is just a keyword they know will get people behind them for their own cause.

SpecialCase says:

Comcast Corporate HQ

Call Comcast’s executive headquarters in Philadelphia at +1 215-665-1700 and voice your concerns there.

Not to use a slippery slope, but if we give in on kiddie pr0n today we will have little ground to stand on when the politicians want us to block the New York Times for an “objectionable” piece that paints said politician in an unfavorable light.

Anonymous Coward says:

Big Government never learns that without small businesses making jobs for people, the country cannot survive as a democracy…A family opens up a small business and can’t afford to keep paying legal bills to fight “city hall.”
So what has to happen? The business fails or goes bankcrupt
all the employees go on welfare, and the State is billed now
for their weekly pay in order to live! It’s supposed to
be a “free enterprise system.” ?????

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