New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday announced a deal with Verizon, Time Warner Cable and Sprint to eliminate child pornography on the networks of the three ISPs. Part of the deal is a broad shutdown of Usenet newsgroups, as’s Declan McCullagh reported yesterday. Time Warner cable announced that it will stop offering Usenet to its customers altogether, and Sprint will ban all alt.* newsgroups from its Usenet servers. Verizon is apparently contemplating a similar step.

One could decry this as an overreaching measure initiated by the fear of Spitzer-like lawsuits against ISPs. Cuomo’s office found only 88 newsgroups containing child porn, and there are more than 18,000 in the alt.* hierarchy alone, ranging from alt.feminism to alt.woodworking. But there is another reason that ISPs are so eager to get rid of these newsgroups: The alt.* hierarchy is also home to hundreds of video newsgroups, offering everything from current TV shows to full DVD images, and the growing popularity of Usenet video downloading makes it increasingly costly to offer access to those groups. Continue reading at

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