The New York State Attorney General Announces Agreements With AT &T, The Nation's Largest Internet Service Provider, And AOL To Stop Major Sources Of Child Pornography

NEW YORK, NY (July 10, 2008) - The New York State Attorney General today announced a major development in his office’s ongoing campaign to combat online child pornography. AT&T, the nation’s largest Internet Service Provider, and AOL, the nation’s third largest, have both agreed to eliminate access to child porn Newsgroups, a major supplier of these illegal images. They will also purge their servers of child porn websites. Today’s announcement comes on the heels of similar agreements with Verizon, Sprint, and Time Warner Cable announced by The New York State Attorney General last month.

In addition, The New York State Attorney General today unveiled a new website, www.nystopchildporn.com, dedicated to fighting online child pornography. The website provides details on which Internet Service Providers (ISPs) 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. The New York State Attorney General 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.

“These with agreements with two of the nation’s largest ISPs to eradicate child porn websites from their servers tighten the noose around this despicable trade,” said The New York State Attorney General . “Today’s agreements with AT&T and AOL send a message to Internet Service Providers across the nation that they can no longer drag their feet when it comes to protecting our children and instead must quickly purge child porn from their servers.”

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,The New York State Attorney General last month secured agreements with Verizon, Time Warner Cable, and Sprint 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, The New York State Attorney General announced that AT&T and AOL have also agreed to completely block access to all child porn Newsgroups and to purge their servers of all child pornography websites. The agreements with the nation’s first and third largest Internet Service Providers will help close off a major source for online porn.

The New York State Attorney General continued, “I commend AT&T and AOL for working with my office to aggressively purge child pornography from the Internet, and I encourage consumers across New York State and the nation to visit my website www.nystopchildporn.com to make sure their Internet Service Providers are also taking every step they can to eradicate this appalling trade.”

AT&T President of State Legislative and Regulatory Affairs David Condit said, “AT&T takes its obligation to protect its customers from child pornography very seriously, and we're happy to work with The New York State Attorney General ’s office and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in the effort to help prevent the distribution of this harmful and abusive content.”

National Center for Missing & Exploited Children Chief Executive Officer Ernie Allen said, “This is another tremendous step forward in ridding the Internet of child pornography. The New York State Attorney General continues to lead the fight against child pornography and I applaud his efforts to cut this horrific material off at the source.”

Protecting children from online predators has been a priority for The New York State Attorney General . In May 2007, The New York State Attorney General worked with law enforcement authorities to investigate sex offenders who had been found on MySpace, a popular social networking site. In October 2007, The New York State Attorney General 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, The New York State Attorney General 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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