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ISPs take major step in curbing child porn

Three major firms agreed June 10 to purge images from their Web servers.

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US law enforcement officials have some new deputies in their efforts to control child pornography: big telecommunications firms that provide Internet service to millions of Americans.

On June 10, New York state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced that Verizon, Sprint, and Time Warner Cable have agreed to block access to child pornography and eliminate it from their servers. The move will affect customers of these companies nationwide.

In the past, Internet service providers (ISPs) have been reluctant to block specific content, arguing that they were portals, not hosts – and that the freewheeling nature of the Web would blunt any attempt at such regulation.

But controlling explicit images of children via pursuit and prosecution of individual users is a slow and tedious process, note experts. Knocking out the means of distribution of child pornography may be a better approach.

"I hope it works," says Janis Wolak, an assistant professor at the Crimes Against Children Research Center of the University of New Hampshire.

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