Giganews Boosts Aid to Fight Exploitation of Minors: “The Internet can be a tough place for lesser known protocols such as BitTorrent and the newsgroups. They are often times the target of all types of political rhetoric and agendas, and frequently the target of copyright enforcement claims because after all, the World Wide Web is a sacred place. Lately, the newsgroups came under fire from New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, and were a focal point of his campaign to rid internet of the exploitation of minors.”
His campaign was targeted largely at consumer ISPs such as Cablevision, Comcast, RoadRunner, Sprint, and AT&T. These large companies agreed to work with the attorney general’s office, and by that we mean they, in varying degrees, discontinued their customer’s access to the newsgroups. While the effort to rid the internet of child abuse images is noble, taking a Gatling gun to an entire protocol of the Internet was seen as a bit extreme.
The newsgroups are a historic part of the Internet that predates the World Wide Web by over a dozen years. This medium was initially used in a similar manner as today’s community forums, where people would gather and discuss a wide range of topics. The newsgroups were eventually used to distribute files as well, mostly common nonsense like movies, MP3s, videos, and so on. However, like many protocols of the Internet, the newsgroups were exploited to trade images of child abuse.
Although Cuomo’s campaign has successfully exterminated the newsgroups from many ISPs, the problem still remains. Unfortunately, ISP news servers are typically designed for discussion, not trading files. The result of Cuomo’s actions resulted largely in the inconveniencing of legitimate customers who are looking to talk about their hobbies, computer issues, and so on. It’s unknown if Cuomo succeeded or simply forced his targets onto third party newsgroup providers. But if the latter is true, third party providers aren’t about to make things easy for them.
Giganews, one of the largest newsgroup providers, announced their intentions to increase funding to the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), an organization committed to eradicating child abuse images from the net. Giganews took the attorney general’s words seriously, and conducted a self evaluation on their own server network. The study revealed two interesting points:
“First, by using the New York Attorney General’s information, 99.9997% of Usenet has been found to be free of child sexual abuse images,” the latest blog post on Giganews reads. “It is clear that Usenet is not the haven for child sexual abuse that some have recently attempted to claim. Regardless of the small percentage, Giganews has never and will never turn a blind eye to the problem.”
“Second, the Internet Watch Foundation is the most effective agency fighting the spread of this filth. Unlike any US based organization, the IWF actively monitors suspected and known newsgroups as well as any specific images reported to them by Internet users. After they verify the materials are, in fact, child sexual abuse, they transmit takedown notices to all member Usenet providers.”
Giganews’ move is significant. As the largest provider of the newsgroups, Giganews’ action will likely send the message that just because consumer ISPs may be on the decline, third party providers won’t be home for abusive images.