In a deal with the Attorney General of New York, three major Internet service providers agreed to shut down USENET newsgroups and Web sites that host child pornography, the state prosecutor announced on Tuesday.
The settlement concluded an investigation by the Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's office that allegedly uncovered 88 newsgroups with more than 11,390 "sexually lewd photos featuring prepubescent children," the state prosecutor said in a statement announcing the deal. Under the terms of the settlement, the three ISPs will block access to newsgroups that are known to traffic in child pornography and take down Web sites on their networks that host illicit images. In addition, the ISPs will collectively pay $1.125 million to fund additional investigations by the Attorney General's office and National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
"The pervasiveness of child pornography on the Internet is horrific and it needs to be stopped," Cuomo said in a statement. "We are attacking this problem by working with Internet service providers to ensure they do not play host to this immoral business."
Law makers and Internet service providers have adopted tough policies to combat those who traffic child pornography. After finding its service a haven for potentially thousands of convicted sexual offenders, MySpace barred at least 29,000 people believed to be registered offenders from its social network. The FBI have also reportedly sent links of purported child pornography to newsgroups and then raided anyone who clicked on them.
Law enforcement's power to search for child pornography will likely expand. Border patrol agents currently have the ability to search for illicit data on laptops carried by travelers, an act that is heavily criticized by civil-rights, minority and business-travel groups. And, earlier this year, the Bush Administration's top cop told a congressional committee that law enforcement would benefit from a law forcing Internet service providers to hold onto customer data longer.
The latest investigation used hash values to identify potential child pornography by comparing the values to a dictionary of hashes of known illicit images. The Attorney General's office claimed it developed the search software, but digital forensics labs have used similar techniques to quickly comb hard drives for images and other files.
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Posted by: Robert Lemos