Technology

Cable Operators to Join Fight vs. Online Child Porn

National Cable & Telecommunications Association members team up with National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, National Association of State Attorneys General. 7/17/2008 03:10:00 AM Eastern

Cable operators belonging to the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, which reach the vast majority of all cable subscribers, agreed to team up with state attorneys general and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to help combat online child pornography.

NCTA members, which represent Internet access to 112 million homes, agreed not to host on servers they control or own any of the Web sites on an NCMEC list of sites identified as containing child pornography.

"Building on our strong commitment to online safety, the cable industry wants to help combat child pornography and exploitation," NCTA president Kyle McSlarrow said in announcing the agreement, which came in the form of a memorandum of understanding with the NCMEC and the National Association of State Attorneys General.

"By signing the NCMEC MOU, cable Internet-service providers are reaffirming their strong commitment to online safety and Internet literacy for all American families," he added.

The MCMEC said it signed similar agreements with individual companies, but this is the first for an entire sector.

Cable operators agreed to report any instances of their companies hosting sites on the list and may even change their policies about hosting news groups, the NCTA said, if they are found to be hosting child porn. That could include not hosting the group or groups in general.

The agreement is a two-way street, NCTA spokesman Rob Stoddard said. Cable operators will flag the NCMEC if they find that they have hosted a site on the list, and the NCMEC will inform operators when a new site has been added.

Is the NCTA concerned about relying on the NCMEC to make the call on which sites it will not allow those 112 million homes to access? Stoddard said the NCTA is clearly putting its trust in the NCMEC, but it has a great deal of confidence in the group, which has worked closely with law enforcement to identify such sites and become the "most respected resource in this space."

The NCTA got a collective pat on the back from the PTA, the IKeepSafe Internet Safety Coalition and Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.).

Upton, who pushed for protecting children from sexual content on TV, said of the agreement: “I applaud the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the nation’s cable companies for their partnership to share information and shut down illegal Web sites that contain child pornography. Both of these organizations have made it clear that predators on the Internet and peddlers of child pornography will not be tolerated."

The MOU becomes effective in 30 days and signatories include Comcast, Cox Communications, Charter Communications, Cablevision Systems, Bright House Networks, Suddenlink Communications, Mediacom Communications, Insight Communications, Bresnan Communications, Midcontinent Communications, Broadstripe, GCI, Harron Communications, US Cable, BendBroadband, Eagle Communications, Sjoberg's Cable and Time Warner Cable.

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