Cuomo's Bully Tactics Are Working

ALBANY, N.Y. - Using threats of legal action if he doesn't get the signatures he's after, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has gotten a string of major Internet service providers to sign off on his campaign against online child pornography.

To date, several ISPs - including AOL, AT&T and Verizon - have signed the pact, while Comcast issued a statement saying officials planned to sign. The statement was released after Cuomo threatened to take legal action against Comcast, however.

In theory, the agreement calls on the ISPs to take steps to eliminate child porn websites and Usenet newsgroups containing child pornography from their servers.

But the moves ISPs are taking seem to be removing legitimate content more than child pornography.

According to various news outlets, AT&T and Time Warner used Cuomo's directive to eliminate vaporize large swaths of Usenet where New York hasn't found "sexually lewd photos featuring prepubescent children."

Verizon Communications deleted such unlawful discussion groups as us.military, ny.politics, alt.society.labor-unions, and alt.politics.democrats.

Cuomo lauded AOL earlier this month for its actions - AOL actually closed off access to Usenet groups in 2003 - and Time Warner, which eliminated all its Usenet groups in 2005, three years before Cuomo started pushing his agenda.

And while Comcast has yet to sign Cuomo's pact and could face his legal wrath by the end of this week, the attorney general neglects to recognize the fact Comcast was actually instrumental in organizing an industry-wide agreement with more than 40 state attorney generals and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. Turns out, Cuomo was one of the few attorney generals to withhold his signature from that agreement, which was approved by the National Association of Attorneys General.

Under that agreement, the ISP will work with NCMEC to remove access to specific sites known to contain child porn. Cuomo claims, however, that that pact falls "well short of the full range of measures set out in our code of conduct."

Comcast spokesman Sena Fitzmaurice said on Tuesday that Comcast's lawyers are evaluating Cuomo's request and that the company may enter into an agreement with New York "substantially similar to the agreements they announced recently with AT&T and AOL."