Thursday, August 28, 2008

Westchester Guardian/The Advocate

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Advocate
Richard Blassberg

Attorney General Andrew Cuomo
Stops Internet Child Porn At Its Source
Declares, “We Are Focused On Real Problems For Real People”

Last Monday, August 18th, New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, accompanied by several members of his Office, made an appearance at the New Rochelle Public Library. Appearing energized and lean, Cuomo was greeted by a panel of 12 parents, teachers, school officials, PTA members and Mayor Noam Bramson. Cuomo’s appearance was one of several around the state to raise awareness of his
Office’s ongoing campaign to rid the Internet of child pornography.

Cuomo announced that eight more Internet Service Providers (ISPs) had joined 10 who had already come to an agreement with his Office to eliminate child pornography sources, all websites and newsgroups; major suppliers of illegal images.

Those ISPs servicing the lower Hudson Valley, who have come on board, agreeing to combat online child pornography, just three weeks following Cuomo’s forwarding of letters and subpoenas, include: Frontier/Citizens, Covad, Localnet, Access Highway, Best Web, Wild Blue, Cloud 9, and Media-Com. They joined AT&T, Com-Cast, America On Line, Verizon, Road Runner, Sprint, EarthLink, Cablevision, United On Line, and HughesNet.

Cuomo’s principle purpose in meeting with parents and school personnel was to directly disseminate information regarding the latest developments in his Office’s assault against online child pornography, and, to familiarize them with his Office’s new website,, which provides information regarding those ISPs that have signed agreements to purge access to child porn, and
those that have not. The site also provides contact information as well as other assistance for those parents and concerned citizens, who might wish to encourage those providers who have, not as yet, made a committment to join the effort, to do so.

Cuomo told those gathered, and the media present, “We are focused on real problems for real people.” Referring to the “terrible, vile, criminal acts,” involving children that are depicted on the Internet, he explained that he had concluded, “Rather than investigating the users, we are going after the suppliers.” He compared the problem to the pushing of illegal drugs, declaring, “The supply networks are the Internet companies, and child pornography footage is crime scene evidence.”

Cuomo proudly announced, “The largest Internet companies have turned it off: AT&T, Com- Cast, Verizon. We are working our way down the list. We have a legal case and a legal theory. You have a choice; you can either pick an Internet company that transmits child pornography or one that doesn’t.”

The Attorney General went on, “Helping consumers make an informed decision is a valuable and meaningful service the Attorney General’s Office performs. A child, on their bed with a laptop, can be in any neighborhood. And, those who would harm our children are very good at seducing children into a conversation.” Cuomo made a point of telling the group, “Face-Book and My Space are used to get kids to take photos of themselves.”

He assured parents, “Because of our actions, New York fami-lies can rest easier knowing that their Internet providers are acting responsibly and taking the necessary steps to eliminate child pornography. The agreements in Westchester and the Hudson Valley are effectively turning off the faucet. New York continues to set the standard when it comes to protecting children.”

Cuomo’s present effort was the outgrowth of a six-month investigation by his Office into the sources of child pornography; reviewing
millions of images and uncovering 88 different newsgroups that contained more than 11,000 sexually lewd photos, in some cases involving
children being raped.

Involved in their undercover investigation, the Attorney General’s staff developed a new system for identifying online content containing child pornography. The method enabled investigators to filter through tens of thousands of online files at a time, quickly revealing which Internet service providers were providing access to child pornography images.

One parent queried, “Kids are progressing to smart phones, Internet on the phone as smart phones are becoming price-competitive. How
do we deal with that?”

Cuomo responded by describing a recent conversation he had had with his 13-year old daughter Kara, who told him, “I have a right to privacy.” He admitted that it was not a simple matter to deal with, as children, such as his daughter, enter into adolescence and express
notions of privacy rights and the right to communicate freely. He referenced the DARE program and anti-drug campaigns that have
worked well with teens, but admitted that the issue was tough, suggesting that a parent needed to assert their position and alert their children
to the dangers.

The agreements with 18 ISPs in the lower Hudson Valley, including Westchester, are merely the latest in a multipronged approach by the Attorney General. In May 2007 Cuomo worked with law enforcement agencies to investigate sex offenders who had been found on My Space. In October it was Face Book announcing a new agreement to enforce safeguards to protect children and adolescents from sexual
predators, obscene material, and harassment.

Between January and May of this year, Attorney General Cuomo, and his Office, succeeded in sponsoring, and getting passed into law,
what some have described as “the Nation’s most comprehensive legislation to dramatically enhance protections for children from sexual predators on the Internet.” Titled The Comprehensive Electronic Security And Targetting Of Online Predators (E-stop), it was passed
unanimously by both the Assembly and the Senate, and signed into law in May of this year.

Cuomo concluded his remarks before the New Rochelle group by saying, “It’s an ongoing process. It’s not a finite universe, and that is why the process must be an ongoing effort.”

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