TechDirt commentary on the ongoing New York initiative for ISPs to block access to newsgroups carrying child pornography.
Andrew Cuomo Threatens To Sue Comcast If It Doesn’t Sign Up For His Plan To Pretend To Fight Child Porn: “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.