It starts with Usenet: squashing free speech

Zeropaid reports on yet another ISP censoring its Usenet access. AT&T will cease offering access to alt.bin* and alt.bain* newsgroups as part of its package later this week, due to pressure from New York Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo exerted under the guise of reducing the flow of child pornography.

The sheer idiocy of this logic is demonstrated by the following quote from the AT&T notice:

While we will continue to provide access to newsgroups as part of our Internet Service Offerings, we will no longer include alt.bin* nor alt.bain* hierarchies because of the possibility of child pornography in those particular groups and the difficulty in ensuring that no child porn reappears in them. You can still access newsgroups content through unaffiliated third party providers.

In light of that last sentence, Cuomo is an idiot if he thinks this move will have any real net effect on the child pornography problem. It’s a very thinly veiled attempt at censorship; Cuomo may as well fight to make it illegal to sell Internet access in the state of New York.

I, personally, haven’t been on Usenet in quite a while, and had no need for binaries groups when I did. However, for those who wish to use them, the option should be there. As a common carrier, AT&T–and for that matter, any Internet service provider–should be shielded from liability for what is posted via and to their Usenet servers.

Am I arguing for the right to post child porn? No. But I do believe the action against AT&T is just the top of the slippery slope.