Under the broad cloak of fighting kiddie porn, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is effectively censoring large swaths of the Internet. Cuomo just strong-armed three of the largest ISPs — Verizon, Sprint and Time-Warner — into blocking access nationwide to sites that are allegedly used to distribute child pornography. This includes blocking access to most — and in Time-Warner’s case all — of the Usenet discussion groups.
I’ll admit that it’s probably been 10 years or so since I frequented the Usenet. But back in the days before web browsers, Usenet practically was the Internet. In fact, most of the cool features of today’s Internet owe their very existence to the pioneering efforts of the early Usenet community, according to Wikipedia:
Usenet was the initial Internet community and the place for many of the most important public developments in the commercial Internet. It was the place where Tim Berners-Lee announced the launch of the World Wide Web, where Linus Torvalds announced the Linux project, and where Marc Andreesen announced the creation of the Mosaic browser and the introduction of the image tag, which revolutionized the World Wide Web by turning it into a graphical medium.
And Usenet is still widely used; in fact, it’s traffic is at record levels in 2008 in terms of data. The fact that a lone thug in Albany can deny access to this wonderful information source on a national basis is frightening.
Maybe there’s an ISP in China we can subscribe to for some of this banned content.