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N.Y. threatens Comcast if it doesn't block access to child porn

By The Associated Press

ALBANY, N.Y. — New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo notified Comcast Corp. yesterday that the state would take legal action against the media company if it doesn't agree to eliminate access to child pornography through its Internet service.

Cuomo wants major Internet service providers to agree on steps to remove certain newsgroups that contain child pornography and purge their servers of child-pornography Web sites.

New York has already reached such agreements with AT&T Inc., AOL, Verizon Communications Inc., Sprint Nextel Corp. and Time Warner Cable Inc.

"Last week, Comcast joined with nearly the entire cable industry and 48 state attorneys general and the Center for Missing and Exploited Children to sign an unprecedented, and highly praised, industry-wide agreement to fight child pornography," Comcast spokeswoman Sena Fitzmaurice said. "Comcast has been working with the New York attorney general and we expect to become a signatory to his agreement as well."

Cuomo was not one of the 48 attorneys general to publicly support the efforts of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association and the National Association for Missing and Exploited Children, because it was not as tough on online child pornography as New York’s code of conduct.

According to Cuomo's office, the agreement that Comcast and others in the cable industry signed on to has targeted Web sites with child pornography, but has weak language when it comes to eliminating newsgroups — where illegal images can proliferate.

Cuomo was also concerned that the agreement Comcast has signed so far would not require the most thorough reporting to law enforcement.

Cuomo accuses Comcast, the second largest Internet service provider in the country, of being unwilling to sign the code of conduct his office created and to commit to removing all child pornography.

Possession and distribution of child pornography isn't protected by the First Amendment, which guarantees free speech, Cuomo said. His office has tried to avoid forcing removal of legally protected content from the Internet.

"Time is of the essence here, as every day without these measures is another day that this illegal material is sluicing through the Internet," Cuomo said in the letter.

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