Attorney General Announces Agreement With Cablevision To Block Online Child Pornography

HEMPSTEAD, NY (August 5, 2008) – Attorney General today announced a major development in his office’s ongoing campaign to combat online child pornography.  Cablevision, the largest Internet Service Providers on Long Island, has agreed to move immediately to block customers’ access to online child pornography.  Cablevision will also eliminate access to child porn Newsgroups, a major supplier of illegal images. 

Today’s announcement comes on the heels of similar agreements with Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, AOL, Sprint, and Time Warner Cable, which were announced by Cuomo in the last several weeks.

In addition, Cuomo sent a letter to an Internet Service Provider (ISP) that serves the Long Island region indicating pending legal action if it does not sign a similar agreement with his office.  The letter was sent to Covad Broadband Service.  Cuomo noted in the letter his grave concern that this company has continued to drag their heels in taking necessary action to eliminate child porn from the Internet.  The letter can be found online at www.nystopchildporn.com/letters.html.    

Today, Cuomo met with Long Island parents to discuss his office’s fight against online child pornography.  At the meeting, he encouraged residents to visit his new website, www.nystopchildporn.com, dedicated to fighting online child pornography.  The website provides details on which Internet Service Providers have signed agreements with the Attorney General’s office to eradicate access to child porn on their servers.  It also provides consumers with information on how to contact ISPs that have failed to make the same commitment to stop child porn.  Cuomo urged consumers across the state to check whether their Internet Service Providers have signed the code of conduct and to demand that they do so if they have not.
 
“There are no more excuses.  Internet Service Providers can no longer drag their feet when it comes to protecting children and purging this deplorable and illegal material from their servers,” said Attorney General Cuomo.  “We are sending a message in Long Island and across the nation that companies who do not adopt these sensible reforms and make a commitment to fight online child pornography will hear from my office.”

Attorney General Cuomo’s initiative against online child pornography grew out of a six month investigation into the sources of child porn.  The Attorney General’s investigation reviewed millions of pictures over several months, uncovering 88 different Newsgroups that contained a total of 11,390 sexually lewd photos featuring prepubescent children, and in some cases photos of children being raped and sexual activity involving animals. 

As part of the undercover investigation, the Attorney General’s office developed a new system for identifying online content that contains child pornography.  Every online picture has a unique Hash Value that, once identified and collected, can be used to digitally match the same image anywhere else it is distributed.  By building a library of the Hash Values for images identified as being child pornography, the Attorney General’s investigators were able to filter through tens of thousands of online files at a time, speedily identifying which Internet Service Providers were providing access to child pornography images.

Following the investigation, Cuomo secured agreements with Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, AOL, Sprint, and Time Warner Cable that for the first time completely block access to all child porn Newsgroups.  In addition to eliminating the Newsgroups, the ISPs also agreed to purge their servers of all child pornography websites identified by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC).  NCMEC regularly reviews and updates its registry of these illegal sites to ensure the list reflects the current presence of such websites on the Internet. 

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.

In recent weeks, Cuomo has traveled throughout New York State to notify New Yorkers about local Internet Service Providers who have not yet signed agreements with the Attorney General’s office to eradicate child porn on their servers.  He has sent letters certain ISPs noting his grave concern that these companies have continued to drag their heels in taking necessary action to eliminate child porn from the Internet.  The letters can be found online at www.nystopchildporn.com/letters.html.  Cuomo has also sent subpoenas to other ISPs to seek information as to whether these ISPs are appropriately fighting child porn on their servers.

Cuomo continued, “Cablevision has committed to work with my office to proactively purge online child pornography, and I applaud them for it.  I encourage consumers on Long Island to visit my website, www.nystopchildporn.com, to ensure that their ISPs are also taking all possible steps to rid the Internet of this despicable content.”

National Center for Missing & Exploited Children Chief Executive Officer Ernie Allen said, “Attorney General Cuomo continues to set the standard in the fight against child pornography and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is proud to call him a partner.  These settlements and actions by the Attorney General's office go to straight to the source in order to remove the volumes of reprehensible material that exist online.”

Protecting children from online predators has been a priority for Attorney General Cuomo.  In May 2007, Cuomo worked with law enforcement authorities to investigate sex offenders who had been found on MySpace, a popular social networking site.  In October 2007, Cuomo and the popular online community Facebook announced a new model to enforce safeguards aimed at protecting its network members, especially children and adolescents, from sexual predators, obscene content, and harassment. 

In January 2008, Attorney General Cuomo sponsored the nation’s most comprehensive legislation to dramatically enhance protections for New Yorkers, especially children, from sexual predators on the Internet.  The comprehensive Electronic Security and Targeting of Online Predators Act (e-STOP), was passed unanimously by the New York State Assembly and Senate, and was signed into law by Governor Paterson in May 2008.  The legislation restricts certain sex offenders’ use of the Internet and updates Megan’s Law for the Internet age.

This investigation is being handled by Senior Investigator Michael McCartney and First Assistant Deputy Attorney General Peri Kadanoff with additional assistance from Assistant Attorney General Karen Geduldig and Confidential Analyst Bradley Bartram.  The investigation is being supervised by Special Counsel to the Attorney General Elizabeth Glazer and Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice Robin Baker.

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