Policy

Comcast Feels Cuomo’s Wrath on Child Porn Code of Conduct

7/21/2008 2:38 PM Eastern

New York attorney general Andrew Cuomo is threatening legal action against Comcast, irked that the company has yet to sign onto a “voluntary” code of conduct signed by other Internet service providers in the state to block newsgroups and other Web destinations known to house child pornography.

In a letter to the telecommunications company on Monday, Cuomo said his office is “gravely concerned” that Comcast continues to “drag its heels” when it comes to every necessary action to eliminate online child porn on the Internet. He notes that other providers, including Verizon Communications Inc., AT&T Inc., Time Warner Cable, Sprint Nextel Inc., and America Online have agreed to his code of conduct.

In a prepared statement, Comcast responded, “We appreciate the hard work by Attorney General Cuomo—and his attorney general colleagues—on the pressing issue of child pornography on the Internet.  In fact, last week, Comcast joined with nearly the entire cable industry and 48 state attorneys general and the Center for Missing and Exploited Children to sign an unprecedented, and highly praised, industry-wide agreement to fight child pornography.  Comcast has been working with the New York Attorney General and we expect to become a signatory to his agreement as well.”

But in his letter, dated July 21, Cuomo noted he sent a subpoena to Comcast on May 6 and initiated discussions to come up with an agreement to include Comcast in his “narrowly crafted” Internet code of conduct. He said the industry-wide initiative announced last week “falls well short” of the full range of measures set out in New York state code of conduct.

“Comcast's unwillingness to sign the code of conduct and purge its system of child pornography puts Comcast at the back of the pack in the race to fight this scourge, and would likely be surprising to Comcast's millions of customers across the country,” he wrote.

The letter reminds Comcast that that possession and distribution of pornographic content is both a federal and state felony, and gives Comcast five days to notify the attorney general whether or not Comcast will sign onto the code.

“In the event that you cannot or will not, my office will pursue the legal remedies open to it to stop child pornography,” Cuomo concluded.

September