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Verizon Cutting Access To Entire Alt.* Usenet Hierarchy

Soulskill posted more than 6 years ago | from the surgical-precision dept.

Censorship 579

modemac writes "Verizon has declared it will no longer offer access to the entire alt.* hierarchy of Usenet newsgroups to its customers. This stems from last week's agreement for major ISPs to cut off access to 'newsgroups and Web sites' that make child pornography available. The story notes, 'No law requires Verizon to do this. Instead, the company (and, to varying extents, Time Warner Cable and Sprint) agreed to restrictions on Usenet in response to political strong-arming by New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat. Cuomo claimed that his office found child porn on 88 newsgroups — out of roughly 100,000 newsgroups that exist.' In response, Verizon will cut its customers off from a large portion of Usenet, as it will only carry newsgroups in the Big 8."

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Nanny Verizon (5, Funny)

sciop101 (583286) | more than 6 years ago | (#23799915)

Will Verizon make sure all eat right, bathe occasionally, wipe their ass in the proper direction?

alt.binaries.* (5, Insightful)

Dr. Cody (554864) | more than 6 years ago | (#23799927)

What a coincidence that they make an enormous overreaction which frees up countless gigabits of bandwidth!

Re:alt.binaries.* (4, Insightful)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 6 years ago | (#23799965)

Now they just need to block p2p protocols by raising the specter of child porn. More bandwidth freed!

Re:alt.binaries.* (5, Insightful)

couchslug (175151) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800015)

ISPs see usenet as a niche market they can dump, so they will.
Who isn't surprised it's lasted this long?

Re:alt.binaries.* (3, Informative)

Chaos Incarnate (772793) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800223)

Maybe with Verizon it did, but Road Runner is dropping Usenet entirelly by the end of the month.

Re: alt.binaries.* (5, Interesting)

Alwin Henseler (640539) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800047)

What a coincidence that they make an enormous overreaction which frees up countless gigabits of bandwidth!
Perhaps not. Isn't the whole point of carrying newsgroups for a provider to have a local copy (local to the ISP, that is)? Bandwidth from that local copy to users is cheap for an ISP.

Ditch that local copy and what happens? Some users will stop downloading these things. But many users would just find another way. For example: other provider's usenet servers, sites elsewhere on the web, P2P programs, etc. I reckon most of these forms would mean traffic from users to random places on the internet, read: much more expensive/troublesome for the ISP than if traffic came from their own servers.

Personally, I would vote with my feet ASAP if my ISP stopped passing on data for anything other than technical or legal reasons.

Re: alt.binaries.* (1)

essdodson (466448) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800299)

You make it sound as if they're snooping the data coming down your line. That's entirely different from refusing to store such on their servers. They're not preventing you from going to other news servers as far as I know.

Re: alt.binaries.* (5, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800407)

My previous ISP did not offer local newsgroup support, so I was left to go looking elsewhere for it. What I encountered was frustrating, because ALL the free usenet services on the network were not complete. Most for example, did NOT cache the entire alt.binaries tree, or any other group that hosted large amounts of data. The few that did were very selective as to which groups they carried, had a low retention (some as little as 4 days) and were god-awful slow.

The free services came and went on a weekly basis, and every couple months I'd have to blow another afternoon looking for another service.

So I ended up ponying up for a pay newsgroup service that carried all the groups, for an extra $20/month I felt my ISP should already be giving me. The service was metered, and once you'd downloaded your monthly limit, you were done until next month. But they did have good speeds and almost 100% of the available groups with at least 2 weeks retention.

Although cost-cutting and censorship are both being blamed here, I don't think that's it. It looks more like a company taking the path of least resistance. The ThinkOfTheChildren tag seems most appropriate. People exercising extremely poor judgement and foresight that result in a massive net-loss in public benefit, under the guise of some holy cause, the only real purpose of which is to shut up a few whiners.

Re: alt.binaries.* (4, Insightful)

Mr.Ned (79679) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800343)

"Personally, I would vote with my feet ASAP if my ISP stopped passing on data for anything other than technical or legal reasons."

Problem is, even after crippling usenet, Verizon is still the best in my area - I can either go with them, Comcast, or RCN (cable) unless I want to shell out for a dedicated line. I'm surely not going to vote with my feet over to Comcast, and RCN doesn't have a stellar reputation, either.

Re: alt.binaries.* (1)

b1t r0t (216468) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800355)

Perhaps not. Isn't the whole point of carrying newsgroups for a provider to have a local copy (local to the ISP, that is)? Bandwidth from that local copy to users is cheap for an ISP.

Except that the high-bandwidth usenet (binaries) is now mostly concentrated through a handful of NSPs. If they get peering pipes to Giganews, Easynews, newsreader.com, and a few others, they might save enough to make up for their current costs, along with the extra costs that would have been incurred to get that bandwidth over their general backbone connection.

Running a usenet server with good binaries retention/completion is not for the faint of heart. Roadrunner is dropping newsgroups entirely. Sure, this kiddie porn thing may have been the cause for this happening, but it was just the straw that broke the camel's back.

Re:alt.binaries.* (1, Redundant)

TeamSPAM (166583) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800063)

But does it really save them bandwidth costs by getting rid of those groups? All the traffic to the usenet server should be internal to Verizon's network. Internal bandwidth should be very low cost for Verizon while external bandwidth would have a much higher cost. Cut this usenet access and how many people will switch over to using BitTorrent to download stuff. Which will most likely have to go outsides Verizon's network for all or a portion of the torrent. Will this increase in external traffic cost Verizon more than running a complete usenet server?

so what (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23799929)

Verizon subscribers can still access them through Google Groups, for example.

Re:so what (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 6 years ago | (#23799931)

For now.

Re:so what (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23799945)

Verizon subscribers can still access them through Google Groups, for example.

I think the issue for many people is more about being blocked from accessing the alt.binaries.* groups, of which Google Groups doesn't provide access (well, not to the actual binary files at least).

Re:so what (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23800027)

I think the issue for many people is more about being blocked from accessing the alt.binaries.* groups, of which Google Groups doesn't provide access (well, not to the actual binary files at least).
HAH! Caught you red-handed, paedophile. It's a well-known fact that alt.binaries.* is a haven for sadists sharing in UNDERAGE EXECUTABLES. Binaries with creation dates less than 3 previous have been found distributed over this network of filth. Hang your head in shame.

Re:so what (0, Troll)

Goaway (82658) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800037)

Somehow, I don't think getting you your warez is high up on the agenda of very many ISPs.

Re:so what (3, Interesting)

me at werk (836328) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800215)

It's high up on the agenda of Virgin [torrentfreak.com] , actually.

Re:so what (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23800229)

Somehow, I don't think getting you your warez is high up on the agenda of very many ISPs.
Then they'd better buck their ideas up because getting me my warez is exactly what I'm paying them for. I didn't get broadband for email and websites.

Until Google folds to the retard brigade (1)

Snaller (147050) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800385)

This is just another inept move designed for PR not actually use since it has no effect on those spreading this kind of material. You would have to ban computers to prevent the electronic spread of such things - and then they would spread it on paper instead.

To protect children... (1)

motek (179836) | more than 6 years ago | (#23799933)

...they will kill all adults.

Re:To protect children... (5, Insightful)

rhombic (140326) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800249)

No, they'll just do their best to turn all adults back into children, so there's just one group of people and they can all be protected together.

To my eye, looks like it's been pretty successful so far.

This is just a "Feel Good" PR stunt. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23799937)

Serious newsgroup users have a paid account and you will still be able to access alt.* through those and other means.

Gad zooks (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23799951)

People still use USENET?

``Child porn on 88 newsgroups'' (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23799953)

It's nice to know that uploading child pornography to a service is enough to get it shut down.

Child Pron on less than 1%=CUT ACCESS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23799955)

Then why not cut all access to the Intarwebs and totally ban it. Hell, lets burn all books since playboy is pron and all pron is teh evil. Hell, lets go further than that and ban everything including life itself?

obviously thought through (2, Funny)

Slotty (562298) | more than 6 years ago | (#23799959)

Because there is obviously no other purpose for alt.* on usenet other than kiddie porn.

Political stunt for the win!!!

Re:obviously thought through (1, Flamebait)

dr_dank (472072) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800039)

Because there is obviously no other purpose for alt.* on usenet other than kiddie porn.

I agree that it's overkill to do away with hosting the whole alt hierarchy, but there isn't much political speech going on in a newsgroup specifically dedicated to underage porn or warez binaries. I'm surprised they've gotten hosted for this long.

My prediction is that the media companies and/or government agencies will start harassing usenet users next. Now that many major ISPs are discontinuing this kind of binary newsgroup access, it'll push those so inclined to seek out third party newsgroup providers. If the relevant government agencies can get user records from those companies, they'll have ip logs and credit card data and be able to catch their prey dead-to-rights.

Re:obviously thought through (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23800107)

oh well, rec.masturbation.kiddie here i come!

Re:obviously thought through (5, Funny)

mememe (194838) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800221)

Because there is obviously no other purpose for alt.*

alt.verizon-sucks
alt.verizon-sucks.dick
alr.verizon-sucks.ass

Competition? (5, Funny)

getuid() (1305889) | more than 6 years ago | (#23799963)

What happened, pissed off because alt.sex.fetish.piss-on-your-customers is already claimed by T-Com?...

That's all? (3, Insightful)

Devin Jeanpierre (1243322) | more than 6 years ago | (#23799975)

I'd block all access to the internet-- much more effective.

Re:That's all? (1, Insightful)

Akaihiryuu (786040) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800005)

They aren't even blocking them...they just aren't offering them on their newsgroup servers anymore. The solution - run your own NNTP server. I don't use my ISP's DNS or email, why would I use their newgroup servers?

Re:That's all? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23800115)

good luck getting an alt.* nntp feed for any less than $kilobucks$. (also, where are you going to get the OC3 needed to carry the articles to your home server).

Re:That's all? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23800171)

I don't use my ISP's DNS or email, why would I use their newgroup servers?
Um, because you pay for them?

Logical progression: (5, Insightful)

LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) | more than 6 years ago | (#23799977)

Child pornography has also been found on 3,000 of the 100,000,000 sites that form the Worldwide Web. Verizon will be shutting down access to this service immediately.

Child pornography has also been found being shared by approximately 0.5% of users on peer-to-peer networks. Verizon will be shutting down access to this service immediately.

Ahh, nothing like feeling protected. Pretty soon you'll find you can receive the same level of service and "protection" AS Verizon provides by cancelling your internet service entirely and save yourself $40/month in the process.

Re:Logical progression: (1)

Devin Jeanpierre (1243322) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800033)

Should I assume that those statistics are made up for the humor/rhetoric, since no web crawler has visited past 20% of the estimated size of the web, and P2P networks in general are impossible to know the full scope of (at the least without crawling all of the web)-- and some, specially designed ones, are even designed to make it impossible to know estimates of proportions of content on them?

Re:Logical progression: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23800055)

and P2P networks in general are impossible to know the full scope of (at the least without crawling all of the web)

P2P isn't part of the web. There's a whole lot on the internet that isn't part of the web. The web is a very specific portion of the internet. Until people can understand this basic little fact, it's almost futile to have this discussion.

Re:Logical progression: (1)

Devin Jeanpierre (1243322) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800089)

No, I was referring specifically to Bittorrent trackers, which I, at least, can only find through the web.

Re:Logical progression: (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800165)

I would be willing to bet at this point 'the web' ( and email ) generate the most traffic of all the other things going on out there.

I don't include *dedicated* links for companies in this count, as that technically isn't out on the 'internet' unless they are using common carrier + site to site VPN, regardless of how the packets may be routed without their knowledge.

Re:Logical progression: (1)

daliman (626662) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800059)

Yes

Re:Logical progression: (2, Insightful)

Ilgaz (86384) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800071)

I hope people didn't forget the Usenet that much as Verizon hopes.

If you are concerned about pornography or even piracy of any kind, you don't carry alt.bin tree , problem is solved.

alt.* tree besides bin is really about freedom of speech in its pure form.

Re:Logical progression: (2, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800133)

Child pornography has also been found on 3,000 of the 100,000,000 sites that form the Worldwide Web. Verizon will be shutting down access to this service immediately.
Except for the "Version approved" websites of course.

Re:Logical progression: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23800135)

You don't save $40 per month when they cancel your internet service. That $40 is your "protection" fee. Don't you feel safer already?

Re:Logical progression: (4, Insightful)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800157)

Don't forget that child pornography is often sent by email. I trust Verizon will be halting all email service across its network immediately.

Re:Logical progression: (1, Informative)

eMartin (210973) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800281)

Verizon is not really "cutting off access" to anything. They are just no longer providing these groups *on their own servers* which they are completely free to do, and good for them.

The only times I've used usenet in the last few years were to download TV shows. When my ISP decided to drop postings larger than a few megabytes in order to fight piracy, I was slightly inconvenienced, and had to switch to an alternate pay service, but I didn't complain. In fact I didn't understand why they didn't do it sooner. They were, after all, *hosting* the content on their own servers.

Now sure, that probably ended up blocking some valid postings along with the wealth of pirated movies and music that could previously have been found, but what else were they to do?

In this case, the solution isn't so easy though. Do any of you whiners have a better one? And before you suggest cutting of just the obvious child porn groups, you might want to read up on how Usenet works.

Anyway, I don't see this as unfair. The moment they start blocking websites that *might possibly* contain illegal material, they would be crossing a line into censorship territory where they are deciding what you can or can't expose yourself to, but in this case they are just choosing to not make the material availaable themselves.

Would you guys also object if a web host cancelled the account of an unmoderated web forum about cars or star trek or whatever but also let people post child porn to their servers?

But think of the spam!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23800411)

You know what the usenet is full of? It isn't child porn, it's mostly spam. Especially the alt.* groups. Shutting down usenet is shutting down spammers!! This is doubleplusgood slashthink!! Just imagine, a usenet with no spam!

Cause, ya know, I'm just sayin... since nobody here made a peep when these ISPs outright dropped port 25 traffic on home accounts.

"First they came for email servers, and I did not speak because was not an email admin..."

Huge overgeneralization (2, Insightful)

BASICman (799037) | more than 6 years ago | (#23799979)

Wow, what a huge over-generalization on the part of Verizon. I guess that means you would no longer have access to alt.startrek.creative. Gotta keep those dangerous fanfiction writers away from t3h childrens.

Re:Huge overgeneralization (1)

Ilgaz (86384) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800097)

It is so stupid that one wonders if Verizon has to go nice with Government of USA these days. I don't know the American system but generally, if a company does stupid things that will only make Govt. happy, they are going for a deal or something.

Well, Google groups and the Germany/.edu based http://www.individual.net/ [individual.net] to the rescue. Both doesn't carry bin groups. That is what they should do if they were concerned.

quick... (5, Funny)

msauve (701917) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800001)

Someone upload some child porn to the Verizon billing site.

Re:quick... (4, Insightful)

ComputerGeek01 (1182793) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800075)

Uh dude, MOST of us don't have that kind of stuff laying around the house...

Re:quick... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23800307)

You could upload mock-swedish speaking chefs instead.

Re:quick... (5, Funny)

rubah (1197475) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800333)

well, that's no problem, just log onto usenet and . . .uh never mind.

Common Carrier Status *poof* (1, Interesting)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800003)

Has been kissed good bye.

If they are now making active, non court demanded, decisions on filtering, then they should be held to a different standard then a common carrier and lose all the benefits of being one.

Besides, this is just wrong. So what if a handful of usenet groups are 'bad'? This is like stopping every car on the street and searching because one guy had dope in his car in another town.

Not that there is much left of usenet these days worth saving, but still, its the beginning of a really slippery slope.

Re:Common Carrier Status *poof* (4, Informative)

Goaway (82658) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800049)

They are just choosing which newsgroups to carry.

Just like every single NNTP server out there.

But don't let that stop you from overreacting, though.

Re:Common Carrier Status *poof* (2, Insightful)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800153)

They are just choosing which newsgroups to carry.


But dropping all of alt.* just because a few have had child porn floating about on them?

I'd still consider them to be overreacting more than the grandparent poster is on the subject as there's quite a bit more actual useful stuff in the alt.* branch as it was for anything that didn't fit into the normal comp.*, etc. branches of organization in USENET. As someone said, this is a convenient excuse to lose quite a bit of bandwidth consumption on their part.

Re:Common Carrier Status *poof* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23800073)

Ok look, I know you are probably new here, but I live on a different continent, I'm not working in the field, I'm no lawyer and I still know that ISPs IN THE US DOES NOT HAVE COMMON CARRIER STATUS.

No matter what they do it would be hard for them to lose something they don't have.

Re:Common Carrier Status *poof* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23800087)

>> its the beginning of a really slippery slope.

I have been reading this type of comment for the past months..... as far as I am concerned, we are WAY past the beginning and have been for a while.
Pretty much all started when "Bush" got into office. Howard Stern got fucked by the FCC, we have been searching aimlessly for weapons of mass destruction, Max Hardcore was just convicted because of "indecency laws", now alt.* is gone because of a handful of bad people ..... Not sure about you but the beginning of the slippery slope is long gone.

common carrier status (1)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800111)

affects decisions based on ignorance/knowledge of what they ARE transporting
it has nothing to do with a refusal to connect two points.

it's a poor analogy- but
i.e. if Mama Bell won't connect you to 900 & 976 numbers it does not affect common carrier status.

if they say- we saw you downloading pro-life material, and won't let it go through any more-- thats one thing.

but they say "no more connecting to .cn hosts" there is no common carrier issue.

Re:Common Carrier Status *poof* (1)

kegger64 (653899) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800113)

The major ISPs don't have common carrier status, nor do they want it. Google the telecommunications act yourself to understand why they're classified as data carriers and not communication carriers.

Re:Common Carrier Status *poof* (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800185)

Common carrier has been kissed good bye.

Your ISP isn't a common carrier. Your ISP has been looking for an excuse to shut down its USENRT servers for the last ten years.

Re:Common Carrier Status *poof* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23800197)

Stop calling it common carrier status! ISPs are not common carriers like the telcos in the telephone business are. It's a troublesome title that the major ISPs wanted to avoid entirely.

Yes, feel free to sue them. Nobody else does.

Re:Common Carrier Status *poof* (1)

Secrity (742221) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800209)

The ISP side of Verizon does not have Common Carrier status. Blocking newsgroups is not censoring content.

Don't Ban Me For This, It Needs To Be Asked (-1, Offtopic)

ComputerGeek01 (1182793) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800009)

I'm from New York and as much as I agree with what this attorney is doing I can't help but to ask, is he pulling an Eliot Spitzer?

Where can we go with their logic? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23800011)

"Cuomo claimed that his office found child porn on 88 newsgroups--out of roughly 100,000 newsgroups that exist.'"

Can we apply the same logic and standard to New York's population. If the state has any areas/counties/towns with a .088 or greater percentage of sexual predators will they restrict the rest of the state from traveling to that area?

What about other crimes? After all we are talking about everyone's well being. If NY's overall crime rate is greater than .088 then other states should restrict all travel and communications with NY.

Re:Where can we go with their logic? (1)

Monoman (8745) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800189)

Where can we go? To 49 other states for vacations and other carriers for service. :-)

Democrats are obsessed with Child Porn (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23800017)

the same way Republicans are obsessed with Homosexuals.

If you thought GOP was bad in these past 8 years wait until Democrats assume the wheel with supermajority to push whatever nanny-state bullshit they can think of in the name of the "children"

Video games and the internet seem to be the useful idiots for Democrats. Just blame it on violence and child porn to shut things down and generate talking points for the next election cycle. Oh yeah, do that in between paying lip service to net neutrality proponents.

Those Evil Democrats (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23800227)

As soon as I read "Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat" I knew there would be some idiot extrapolating this to an entire political party. We hear these doom and gloom predictions about the evil Democrats every election cycle, but they somehow never materialize. What the slashdot summary doesn't tell you is that liberal groups like the ACLU have come out *against* this broad measure. Furthermore, Verizon was not forced to cut access to anything. They apparently decided that it was in their best business interest. The Attorney General just gave them the excuse they needed. Finally, comparing child porn to homosexuality is just plain inappropriate. Child porn is abuse. Homosexuality is a lifestyle choice.

Re:Those Evil Democrats (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23800361)

Homosexuality is a lifestyle choice.

Uh, you realize that it's not a choice, right? There are plenty of people out there who would love to stop being attracted to their own gender if they could help it.

the problem with filtering (4, Insightful)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800067)

is that it now opens up someone else to be sued.

follow me, on this. right now, the network is *mostly* unfiltered and for many users, they do get a clean unfiltered net feed (home, work, whatever). and so if laws are broken (say you illegally download something), the own-ness is on you. the carrier or the authority policing the carrier isn't at fault since its not them who are guaranteeing a '100% legal internet feed'. they clearly can't say that all things you could pull down are legal and they are just a common carrier. I know that CC status is magical and not all real CC's have it but that's just because our laws in this area are not well fine-tuned yet. any reasonable person knows that an ISP is a service provider just like the water department, electric department or the phone company.

but say that they now have the job of regulating the legality of all things you could net-access. then, if you -do- find some song or other 'illegal content' and you do manage to download it, you SHOULD be free and clear. right? afterall, there is now a policing layer (a 'great firewall' if you will) between you, the user, and the ISP or upstream service provider. if they take on the job of filtering and 'ensuring a clean and legal net experience' then ANY bad deeds you do by downloading files is not your problem anymore.

I don't think they want either side, to be honest. they don't want to be in the regulation business because once you do that in an above-board manner, you should be liable for any faults in your so-called filtering algorithms. if you tell some grandma that 'the net is now safe' and she finds something she does not like, she SHOULD be able to sue your damned ass.

its sad to think that the ISPs are not thinking far enough in the future to see where this leads. they must insist on common-carrier status and all that that implies. the net is like a water pipe (cue the infamous senator quote about 'tubes!' here) and it should not be filtered or mangled by some well-meaning (cough!) government moran.

responsibility belongs AFTER the demarc point, so to speak. NEVER EVER before it!

Re:the problem with filtering (4, Insightful)

faedle (114018) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800261)

That is why they are probably legally safe from just not carrying the entire alt.* hierarchy.

Common carrier does not necessarily demand you service anybody. A common-carrier truck line can only service two major cities (say, Portland OR and Seattle WA), or only be able to provide services with a 14-foot van.

Similarly, Verizon can choose to not carry a wide swath of net.news, provided their reasoning for not carrying it fills a technical requirement. All they have to say in front of a judge is that it is increasingly difficult to operate and maintain a news server to carry those groups, and any potential lawsuit is over.

If it even sees the inside of a courtroom. Last I checked, Verizon subscribers are tied to binding arbitration.. so good luck with this ever being seen by a judge.

Re:the problem with filtering (1)

mdmkolbe (944892) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800389)

Fail in step one: ISP's are not common carriers anytime anywhere.

altt.* news group (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23800083)

I suppose it is time to create an altt.* newsgroup.

So what do YOU suggest they do? (1)

LoudMusic (199347) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800109)

It's pretty common for people to complain about what's being done, but pretty rare that anyone makes a valid suggestion as an alternative. And I find it even more frustrating that in the geek community people are quick to claim that any measures taken to restrict or alter computer activities can and will be circumvented.

Re:So what do YOU suggest they do? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23800151)

The solution, as always, is to stop these things at the source: The people providing the offending material in the first place. Even if you close the route via Usenet there will still be children being abused, there'll just be less people able to see it and (potentially) trace it back to the source.

You don't close down highways because of highway robbery.

Re:So what do YOU suggest they do? (1)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800217)

You don't close down highways because of highway robbery.
If enough highways get robbed, there won't be any left to close anyway...

Re:So what do YOU suggest they do? (1)

Sancho (17056) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800357)

What about when the source is from another country?

I'm not defending this decision, just playing Devil's Advocate. Ultimately, we all know that child porn was an excuse for Verizon to stop offering all binaries access.

Actual Verizon Business Discussion: (5, Funny)

WDot (1286728) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800117)

Suit: So Cocks called.
John: Cocks?
Suit: Yeah, Cocks. The network for the ballsiest.
Anyway, they want to be hooked up to our digital cable service. What's the capacity on our system right now?
John: Well we still have 50% of our bandwidth av--
Suit: Sweet Virgin Mary! Only 50%? Who's eating up all our bandwidth?
John: Well it's mostly HD football channels, and then peer to peer, and then Usenet.
Suit: Well, we sure as hell can't get rid of the football, and you were supposed to block peer to peer anyway! What in God's name is Usenet?
John: It's a bulletin board system where people can share files.
Suit: Well drop it! I'm not going to limit quality programming for some godless file sharing faggots.
John: But how do we explain that we're arbitrarily dropping a significant portion of our service?
Suit: What are you, stupid? Just say what we always say: we found child porn. Why do I pay you if I do all the thinking?

Re:Actual Verizon Business Discussion: (1)

azazrael (809236) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800379)

I can BELIEVE this - where did you plant the mike? you for got - pay that politician off -

Binary groups (2, Informative)

Undead NDR (1252916) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800139)

Bullshit! If child pornography were the real target, they could have simply removed the binary groups. Removing alt.folklore.computers and alt.os.linux in order to avoid kiddie porn just makes no sense.

Re:Binary groups (4, Insightful)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800233)

Bullshit! If child pornography were the real target, they could have simply removed the binary groups. Removing alt.folklore.computers and alt.os.linux in order to avoid kiddie porn just makes no sense.
And bad things could happen with alt.sysadmin.recovery gone.
Very bad things...

Re:Binary groups (1)

faedle (114018) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800297)

Actually, as a common carrier it is legally safer to cast the net as wide as possible. There is no legal or administrative requirement that Usenet servers carry the alt.* hierarchy. The fact that they are blocking both alt.binaries.pictures.erotica.teen-sluts and alt.plastic.utensils.spork.spork.spork gives them an automatic defense in court of their common-carrier status. "We're not censoring, we just lack the technical ability to maintain the hierarchy properly." End of case.

Re:Binary groups (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23800413)

FYI, alt.binaries.pictures.erotica.teen-sluts has moved to www.myspace.com update your bookmarks.

in other news... (4, Funny)

just_forget_it (947275) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800155)

In other news, automobiles were banned from expressways today in an effort to curb alcoholism once and for all. Items also banned today were kitchen knives amid concerns of forced penis removal, horseback riding in an effort to promote the chastity of young ladies, and bedsheets due to fears of beds not being made.

RE: Does anybody mind? (3, Insightful)

Archon-X (264195) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800175)

Does / did anyone actually use their usenet service anyhow?

ISP usenet services are 9 times out of 10 either outsourced, or have terrible retention, spotty coverage, and no propogation.

BitNabber [bitnabber.com] has all my usenet needs taken care of.

Re: Does anybody mind? (1)

cptnapalm (120276) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800195)

Every, single day.

BitNabber is nice (1)

ArchieBunker (132337) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800293)

If you enjoy paying an extra fee for their access. Since Verizon is going to save all that money in bandwidth and disk space, will the savings be reflected to the customers? Probably not. Remember when the feds finally dropped the FUSF tax? Well verizon tried to introduce some new fee with the same price as the old FUSF. Well they got slapped down in a hurry.

Re: Does anybody mind? (1)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800305)

I clicked through to your link to BitNabber. Their cheapest service is $20/mo. I don't think most people want to pay $20/mo for something that their ISP told them was going to be included in their standard service.

Re: Does anybody mind? (2, Informative)

Archon-X (264195) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800399)

My ISP [Free, in France] provides usenet access, but constantly snips off groups according to its whims.

Since I use Usenet+NZBs, BitNabber works for me.

Others that might work for you:
Giganews.com [giganews.com] - 200 days retention, from 7.99 p/m [SSL available] - no nzb service
SuperNews.com [supernews.com] - from 3.95 p/m - the owner / admin Daniel is very hardline against spam, possibly the cleanest provider out there

Whilst it's frustrating that service should be cut, it seems that Verizon is behind the curve on cutting NG access anyhow.

Re: Does anybody mind? (1)

Yaa 101 (664725) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800313)

That is not the point.

This is all hype (2, Informative)

LS (57954) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800187)

Verizon is not blocking access to newsgroups in general. They are just no longer providing servers to host newsgroups themselves. You can still connect to other newsgroup services which exist in multitudes. What's the big deal? I see no problem here...

Re:This is all hype (1)

SkyDude (919251) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800259)

After a page refresh, I realized you stole my thunder, but you're right. I've used Giganews for 12 years and they've served all my Usenet needs just fine.

Comcast offers Giganews to its subscribers, but limits downloads to 2 GB per month. Hell, even after stripping out the menus and extras, no movie is that small!

Usenet downloads are, IMO, faster and easier to obtain than P2P. Lots of good music exists on Usenet.

Re:This is all hype (1)

coreconcern (891742) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800265)

I agree. I'm not surprised. Of the remaining local ISP's in the U.S. how many still host local usenet servers for their customers?

Re:This is all hype (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23800369)

I agree. Most people I've talked to that use USENET don't use the service that their isp is giving them, they're willing to pay extra/mo for something that doesn't suck so bad. You can't relate this to them dropping email service cuz tons of grannies are gonna use their comcast email, but I dont really think anyone is using their free usenet service provided by their isp.

Why is this such an issue? (4, Informative)

Darundal (891860) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800253)

Verizon isn't blocking anything, they are just not going to carry anything that isn't from the big 8 ON THEIR OWN SERVERS. That is all they are doing. There is no attempted blocking, no attempted fuck big brotherism, nothing. Anyone who was using the Verizon server can simply use another one (pay or free) and suddenly they have access to all the stuff (legitimate and non) that used to be available from the Verizon server. All that really happened is Cuomo wanted to look good to voters, picked an issue you can't lose (politically) with, started talking to several ISPs, and then they decided that even though what the guy wanted wouldn't solve anything, giving him something to make him happy wouldn't actually hurt anyone, so they said sure. This little bit of theater makes Cuomo look good, it makes the ISPs look good to the (mostly non usenet-using) public, and in actuality doesn't hurt anyone.

Re:Why is this such an issue? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23800367)

they are just not going to carry anything that isn't from the big 8 ON THEIR OWN SERVERS.

Step 2: Lobbying politicians to shut down all other USENET providers. "After all, the big media and telco conglomerates were smart enough to shut down rather than risk being raided, why weren't you?"

This is about content providers shutting down a distribution channel for music and video, not pr0n.

Whats a geek to do? (1)

ghetto2ivy (1228580) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800311)

What are our options? Aside from Google (again?) for text. Where do we go? How do we fight this?

Options I heard include: starting your own local NNTP, paid services like gigagnews, writing to Andrew Cuomo (NYS Atty General who started this mess), Switch ISPs to who?

Someone help with action points please? Last thing I want is more censorship in America.

Want press freedom? Get press. (2, Interesting)

Simonetta (207550) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800321)

That old adage comes to mind: "freedom of the press only exists for those with a press".
If we want to have access to all the internet then we have to control our access to the internet. We have to create our own internet service providers. We have to have the demonstrable power to convince politicians (not the loud ones but the ones who actually control things by blocking bills in the early stages) not to interfere with our activities.

    Developing the ability to control and/or prevent child pornography distribution through the web would go a long way to convincing loud politicians that we recognize this problem and can control it better than the giant corporations who approach everything with a 'just shut it all down for everyone' approach. This is assuming that the politicians are actually doing this to prevent distribution of child porn. They could be using child porn as a red herring to shut down ALT access to non-teckies because they can't control it.

    My point is that if we want to control the access to the web (so that we don't get shut out of parts that are important to us) then we have to be able to do a better job of catching the criminals who use the web than the police or giant corporations can.

Not alt :(. (1)

RavenChild (854835) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800347)

Ohh noes meow!

China censorship, here we come (1)

schwit1 (797399) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800353)

I want an internet provider, not a nanny.


Verizon is a coward in how it caved to the NY AG. This is just the beginning of a government controlled Internet. Unless we stand up and say 'enough!' we are going to end up with an Internet that resemble the government censored versions in Saudi Arabia or China.

precedent (2, Insightful)

farmdevil (1308025) | more than 6 years ago | (#23800365)

The ISP industry should stay out of matters like this or it will be to their own disadvantage in the long run. If they set a precedent of just forwarding the content and not actively deciding what users can get, they will be less liable when somebody does access something. When somebody gets child porn on their network, they can just say "We just provide a gateway to view content. Our industry has never played a role in deciding what gets viewed." It's a slippery slope and this precedent seems dangerous for ISPs.
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