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FC: Anti-porn group's take on ISP Usenet prosecution in New York
From: Declan McCullagh <declan () well com>
Date: Sat, 17 Feb 2001 14:56:11 -0500

Bruce Taylor is a former federal prosecutor and president of the National Law Center for Children and Families. He helped to draft the Communications Decency Act and has spent most of his life trying to put people in jail who publish "obscenity" or child pornography.

His note is below; more on the case is here:



From: "nlc.org"
Subject: FW: New York Child Porn Prosecution recent case decision-Reply
Date: Fri, 16 Feb 2001 18:23:31 -0500
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Here is the press release from the New York Attorney General's office about
the guilty plea taken from an ISP that was subscribing to and giving access
to a notorious child porn newsgroup on the Usenet.  This criminal indictment
by the State of New York was for child porn on one of the
alt.binaries.pictures.erotica.preteen groups.  This is one of many
well-known and often complained-of sites where pedophiles and the public
have been posting and retrieving child porn pictures for several years.
Many ISPs still carry this one and several others of these and almost all
ISPs carried them for some time (since most ISPs subscribe to all the
available newsgroups, including the entire alt. hierarchy) and the Usenet
continues to host and distribute hundreds of hard-core porn and child sex
newsgroups.  This case shows that not all of cyberspace is above all the
laws, despite what some advocates, reporters, and even judges may think.
Interesting, isn't it?

Bruce A. Taylor, President & Chief Counsel
National Law Center for Children and Families (NLC)
3819 Plaza Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030-2512
(703) 691-4626, Fax: -4669
BruceTaylor () NationalLawCenter org

-----Original Message-----
From: Paul McCarthy
Sent: Friday, February 16, 2001 11:01 AM
To: NLC () NationalLawCenter org
Subject: FW: New York Child Porn Prosecution recent case decision-Reply

the press release

News from               Department of Law          Department of Law [PARA]120
Broadway                  The State Capitol            [PARA]New York, NY
10271      Albany, NY 12224

Attorney General

Eliot Spitzer
Contact: Paul Larrabee                          For release:
           518- 473-5525                                February 16, 2001

Internet Service Provider Forced to Acknowledge Obligation to Terminate
Illegal Activities

Attorney General Eliot Spitzer has secured a guilty plea in a groundbreaking
case against an internet service provider (ISP) that knowingly provided its
subscribers with access to illegal child pornography.  The plea is the
latest result of a two-year investigation conducted by the Office of the
Attorney General and the New York State Police.

"This case establishes a common sense standard for the Internet," Spitzer
said. "When an ISP becomes aware of illegal child pornography available in
its system, the ISP cannot put its head in the sand."

"Clearly the failure of the Internet Service Provider to identify and
terminate the access to child pornographic sites is gravely unfortunate.
Because the Internet knows no geographic boundaries, it is incumbent upon
the ISPs, legally and morally, to be ever vigilant in protecting the public
from this criminal activity," said State Police Superintendent James W.
McMahon.  "The State Police is committed to coordinating our investigations
with Attorney General Spitzer and other law enforcement agencies across the
nation to end the contemptible conduct of such criminal acts."

Buffnet, a large regional ISP based in West Seneca, New York outside of
Buffalo, pleaded guilty to the crime of Criminal Facilitation in the Fourth
Degree, a Class A misdemeanor.  The company admitted that it failed to take
action when it was notified by a customer as well as by law enforcement that
one of the newsgroups it carried was being used to distribute graphic child

Beginning in 1998, the Attorney General's Office and the State Police began
an investigation of a group that called itself "Pedo University," whose
members used the newsgroup to possess and exchange child pornography.  After
a series of successful prosecutions that helped to dismantle "Pedo U," the
investigation turned its focus from the users of the newsgroup to the ISPs
that provided access to the newsgroup.  One of these was Buffnet.  When
Buffnet was made aware of the content of the newsgroup, it took no action.

"When BuffNet, or any ISP, is informed of this kind of heinous criminal
activity, it has a duty to act.  Here, Buffnet chose to look the other way,"
Spitzer said. "This response is not defensible by any standard of law or

Until now,  prosecutions in this area focused primarily on individuals who
subscribed to an ISP like BuffNET, and who logged on to a newsgroup and
downloaded and traded in child pornography.  The Attorney General's
investigation widened its focus to include the ISP that knowingly provided
the means and the opportunity for this criminal conduct to occur.

Spitzer said that this plea in no way touches on the rights of artistic and
first amendment expression, whether communicated over the internet or by any
other means.  Spitzer emphasized, "this case involved graphic images of
young children engaged in sexual conduct with adults.  These images went far
beyond the pale of protected expression."

BuffNet pled guilty in State Supreme Court before the Honorable Vincent E.
Doyle.  Sentencing was adjourned to February 22, 2001.

This matter was handled by Assistant Attorney General Paul McCarthy of the
Attorney General's Criminal Prosecutions Bureau assisted by Investigators
James Domres and Michael McCartney, Internet specialists of the Attorney
General's  Investigations Bureau, and by New York State Police Investigator
Joseph Thornton of the Buffalo Special Investigations Unit.


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