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Three US ISPs agree to block child porn sites -

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EMMA ALBERICI: In a first for the United States, three internet service providers have agreed to
block access to web sites that show child pornography.

The ISPs including one of the biggest, Time Warner, came to the agreement after the New York
Attorney-General threatened legal action against the companies.

The list of banned websites will be compiled by a private non-profit organisation, the Centre for
Missing and Exploited Children. Supporters say the agreement will help stop the dissemination of
child pornography.

But as David Mark reports one anti-censorship group in Australia argues the decision sets a
dangerous precedent.

DAVID MARK: It may seem like an altruistic move, but the internet service providers, Time Warner,
Verizon and Sprint, were forced into this landmark agreement by the New York Attorney-General,
Andrew Cuomo.

It took an eight month undercover investigation in which his officers posed as subscribers to the
ISPs.When the officer's complaints to the ISPs that they were allowing child pornography online
were ignored, the Attorney-General threatened to charge the companies with fraud.

Now they've come on board and offered the non-government organisation, the Centre for Missing and
Exploited Children more than a million dollars to set up the scheme.

PARRY AFTAB: What they've done is they've agreed to stop allowing anyone to access the channels
that are frequently used for child pornography, and to use technology and people to help ferret it
out wherever it is on their network.

DAVID MARK: Parry Aftab is an internet privacy and security lawyer and the founder of the internet
safety advocacy group, wiredsafety.org.

PARRY AFTAB: Children are exploited and killed often in the making of child pornography.

DAVID MARK: I understand that an organisation called the Centre for Missing and Exploited Children
will be the organisation that keeps a registry of these particular web sites. Is it appropriate
that a non-government organisation compiles this list, that in a sense, it decides what is, and
what isn't child pornography?

PARRY AFTAB: Well the US National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children is non-governmental and
governmental. It was created by a special act of Congress, so although it is a non-profit it is
also government controlled.

It's our official tip line in the United States on child pornography and it acts as a
quasi-governmental unit in many cases.

DAVID MARK: Is it regulated by the government?

PARRY AFTAB: Well everything's regulated, if you're a charity then your regulated, but yes it is
regulated and overseen by the government here.

DAVID MARK: The website of the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children claims it is a
private, non-profit organisation with a congressional mandate.

The fact that a private organisation can essentially act as an official censor is why the
anti-censorship lobby group, Electronic Frontiers, doesn't want to see a similar scheme set up in
Australia.

The organisation's chairman is Dale Clapperton:

DALE CLAPPERTON: First and foremost placing the decision over what type of material is or is not
child pornography in the hands of a non-governmental, non-transparent, non-accountable private
organisation is fundamentally a bad move.

We've just recently seen in Australia the consequences of what can happen when an organisation such
as this gets a bee in its bonnet about something they believe is child pornography.

DAVID MARK: You're referring to the Bill Henson case?

DALE CLAPPERTON: I am indeed. If this type of scheme was replicated in Australia potentially access
to all of his artworks would be blocked.

DAVID MARK: The head of the School of Information Systems at Deakin University, Professor Matthew
Warren, is another critic of the US system but for technical reasons.

MATTHEW WARREN: The reason why it's flawed is that it will only stop the access of these types of
images via user groups. The flaw with the American approach is that it doesn't focus on blocking
inappropriate internet websites.

DAVID MARK: Professor Warren argues the Australian Government is coming up with a better system to
stop the spread of child porn on the internet.

MATTHEW WARREN: The new Rudd Government is now in the process of implementing the strategy that
will filter into their content at the internet service provider levels. So it means that people
will have a clean feed of internet content to their site. The problem that's been raised with that
is that you'd actually slow down the internet.

DAVID MARK: But Dale Clapperton argues the Australian approach is also flawed.

DALE CLAPPERTON: I don't think that anybody is pretending for a moment that implementing this
scheme here ... such as, they are going to do a New York or what ... Labor has proposed that Australia
is actually going to be effective at preventing people from accessing child pornography on the
internet.

DAVID MARK: The chairman of Electronic Frontiers Australia, Dale Clapperton ending David Mark's
report.