Senator Cuomo & the Coming Assault on Internet Freedom

by on January 22, 2009 · 9 comments

Caroline Kennedy has abruptly dropped her bid for Hillary Clinton’s Senate seat.  Her father, of course, probably ties with Andrew Mellon and Ronald Reagan as one of the greatest supply-side tax-cutters of all time.  The economic boom JFK unleashed probably makes up for whatever damage—personal or national—done by the Kennedy clan over the years.  

But whatever one thinks of Caroline in particular or the Kennedys in general, her departure from the “race” to succeed Clinton may go down in history as a catastrophe for Internet freedom, since it likely means that NY Attorney General Andrew Cuomo will take the seat.  

Cuomo has cast himself as a hero fighting to protect children by strong-arming ISPs into shutting down Usenets, as Ryan has explained.  Jim correctly points out the “shake down” nature of Cuomo’s operation.  And Adam has explained that this is all part of a broader assault on online free speech.  While few are willing to discuss this taboo subject, it’s fair to ask whether the “solutions” Cuomo are really the most effective way to deal with the scourge of child pornography. 

I’ll bet good money that if Cuomo makes it into the Senate, he’ll continue this fight on a broader scale—perhaps by pushing for legislation to mandate network-level filtering a la Cleanfeed.

Update: Gov. Paterson has decided to appoint Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand to this seat rather than Cuomo. That’s the good news.  The bad news is that this bully is still Attorney General of the Empire State.  I have no doubt he’ll continue his war on free speech in his current position.

  • MikeRT

    While few are willing to discuss this taboo subject, it’s fair to ask whether the “solutions” Cuomo are really the most effective way to deal with the scourge of child pornography.

    I would like to see some actual transparency on the issue. Some academic studies to find out what exactly it is that law enforcement is often finding, where they're finding it, etc. They can use code names for their sources, file categories, etc., but the problem I have with this is that we always hear that it's an epidemic, but so far no one has posted any actual evidence of that as far as I know.

    I don't doubt that actual child molestation is a serious problem, but it seems to me that if child porn were really the epidemic that it were made out to be, you would see a whole heck of a lot more people arrested for it. Certainly that is the case with the War on Drugs, where you have something like 50-75% of all prisoners in the system for a drug-related offense. It just seems to me that we are getting a lot of rhetoric, but not a lot of actual proof that the current level and tools of enforcement are insufficient to keep the issue under control.

  • Kristen

    I'd be more worried about the administration's expected antitrust chiefs — Christine Varney at DOJ and Jon Leibowitz at FTC. Expect a strong push to “nationalize” the Internet under the pretext of “competition” enforcement.

  • MikeRT

    While few are willing to discuss this taboo subject, it’s fair to ask whether the “solutions” Cuomo are really the most effective way to deal with the scourge of child pornography.

    I would like to see some actual transparency on the issue. Some academic studies to find out what exactly it is that law enforcement is often finding, where they're finding it, etc. They can use code names for their sources, file categories, etc., but the problem I have with this is that we always hear that it's an epidemic, but so far no one has posted any actual evidence of that as far as I know. All we have to go on is the constant political harping that it is a sweeping epidemic, and that liberty must be curtailed to fight it. Again.. where is the proof that law enforcement is actually having even a serious struggle controlling it?

    I don't doubt that actual child molestation is a serious problem, but it seems to me that if child porn were really the epidemic that it were made out to be, you would see a whole heck of a lot more people arrested for it. Certainly that is the case with the War on Drugs, where you have something like 50-75% of all prisoners in the system for a drug-related offense. It just seems to me that we are getting a lot of rhetoric, but not a lot of actual proof that the current level and tools of enforcement are insufficient to keep the issue under control.

  • Kristen

    I'd be more worried about the administration's expected antitrust chiefs — Christine Varney at DOJ and Jon Leibowitz at FTC. Expect a strong push to “nationalize” the Internet under the pretext of “competition” enforcement.

  • MikeRT

    While few are willing to discuss this taboo subject, it’s fair to ask whether the “solutions” Cuomo are really the most effective way to deal with the scourge of child pornography.

    I would like to see some actual transparency on the issue. Some academic studies to find out what exactly it is that law enforcement is often finding, where they're finding it, etc. They can use code names for their sources, file categories, etc., but the problem I have with this is that we always hear that it's an epidemic, but so far no one has posted any actual evidence of that as far as I know. All we have to go on is the constant political harping that it is a sweeping epidemic, and that liberty must be curtailed to fight it. Again.. where is the proof that law enforcement is actually having even a serious struggle controlling it?

    I don't doubt that actual child molestation is a serious problem, but it seems to me that if child porn were really the epidemic that it were made out to be, you would see a whole heck of a lot more people arrested for it. Certainly that is the case with the War on Drugs, where you have something like 50-75% of all prisoners in the system for a drug-related offense. It just seems to me that we are getting a lot of rhetoric, but not a lot of actual proof that the current level and tools of enforcement are insufficient to keep the issue under control.

  • Kristen

    I'd be more worried about the administration's expected antitrust chiefs — Christine Varney at DOJ and Jon Leibowitz at FTC. Expect a strong push to “nationalize” the Internet under the pretext of “competition” enforcement.

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