Internet Service Providers To Block Child Porn; Censorship?

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Three major Internet service providers have agreed to block customer access to newsgroups and Web sites that offer child pornography, says an agreement announced by the New York attorney general’s office and reported by the Washington Post. The agreements, which were hailed by child-welfare advocates as a significant step, push the service providers to take a more active role in monitoring what takes place over their lines.

By forcing providers to act as censors, the agreements may also violate the First Amendment, free-speech advocates said. Under deals with Sprint Nextel, Verizon Communications and Time Warner Cable that are expected to hold nationwide, the companies agreed to shut off access to newsgroups believed to traffic in child pornography and to remove from their servers any Web sites offering such images. The targeted sites will be based on a list compiled by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. John Morris of the Center for Democracy and Technology said that the notion of a government agency forcing a service provider to block content without court oversight raises questions of censorship. Many child pornographers are too savvy to be stopped by merely blocking sites, he said: “The people who want child pornography already use proxy servers to disguise their identity from law enforcement.”

Link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/06/10/AR2008061001085.html

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