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Cable ops sign MOU with NCMEC to combat child porn

Thu, 07/17/2008 - 8:30am
Traci Patterson

An agreement among the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA), the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) states that cable operators that offer Internet service to 87 percent of U.S. households will take additional, voluntary measures to limit the distribution of child pornography.

According to the NCTA, all of the cable operators represented on the NCTA’s board of directors have agreed to help reduce the proliferation of child pornography by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the NCMEC. The NCTA said that the operators offer broadband Internet services to more than 112 million homes in the U.S.  

"Building on our strong commitment to online safety, the cable industry wants to help combat child pornography and exploitation," said Kyle McSlarrow, president and CEO of the NCTA. “By signing the NCMEC MOU, cable Internet service providers are reaffirming their strong commitment to online safety and Internet literacy for all American families."

“Although NCMEC has recently signed similar agreements with individual companies, this agreement is notable as the first such agreement NCMEC has reached with an entire sector of the nation’s communications industry,” said Rhode Island Attorney General and NAAG President Patrick C. Lynch. “The NCTA agreement with NCMEC will limit the ability of predators to store and exchange images of exploitation of those who are, by definition, among the more vulnerable in society. We congratulate the cable industry for taking a strong stand in support of child safety.”

The operators have agreed to use the NCMEC's list of active Web sites identified as containing child pornography, to ensure that no such site is hosted on servers owned or controlled by those companies. The companies will also report these instances to the NCMEC's CyberTipline and, where appropriate, revise their policies around other potential sources of child pornography, such as newsgroups, the NCTA said.

The cable operators that have agreed to execute the MOU within 30 days include: Comcast, Cox Communications, Charter Communications, Cablevision, Bright House Networks, Suddenlink Communications, Mediacom Communications, Insight Communications, Bresnan Communications, Midcontinent Communications, Broadstripe, GCI, Harron Communications, U.S. Cable Corp., BendBroadband, Eagle Communications and Sjoberg’s. Time Warner Cable has already signed the MOU.

In June, Time Warner Cable, Verizon and Sprint Nextel announced that they would cut off access to Usenet and block access to a few designated sites in response to pressure by New York State to restrict access to child pornography (story here).

Last week, AT&T and AOL announced that they would stop providing access to newsgroups that deal in child pornography, and that they would purge their servers of child pornography Web sites (story here).

In June 2007, the NCTA launched its PointSmartClickSafe online safety initiative, and cable ISPs pledged in a code of conduct to support law enforcement in its efforts to ensure online safety for American families.

More Broadband Direct:

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• Cox boosts Internet speeds for N. Virginia business customers

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