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Comcast, Other Cable Companies Sign Pact To Block Child Porn Online

With the help of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, 17 cable companies will update policies to keep up with emerging sources of child pornography, like newsgroups.

Cable operators delivering Internet services to 87% of percent of U.S. homes said they will now limit distribution of child pornography online.

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), and the National Association of Attorneys General signed an industry-wide agreement last week to curtail the exploitation of minors.

As of December 2007, the NCMEC's Child Victim Identification Program had information on more than 1,233 child victims from around the world seen in sexually abusive images. The bureau also has helped seize child pornography collections from more than 11,650 investigations across the country.

"We are deeply grateful for this industry-wide attack on child pornography," Ernie Allen, president & CEO of NCMEC, said in an announcement. "It is not possible to arrest and prosecute every offender. We must be creative and build new public-private partnerships to address this insidious problem more effectively. Today's announcement represents a bold step forward."

The cable companies will use an NCMEC list of Web sites containing child pornography to prevent their servers from hosting the sites. They also agreed to report instances of child pornography, as required by federal law, to NCMEC's CyberTipline. NCMEC will pass the tips on to crime investigators. Finally, the cable companies will update policies to keep up with emerging sources of child pornography, like newsgroups.

The agreement takes effect within 30 days. Companies involved include: BendBroadband; Bresnan Communications; Bright House Networks; Broadstripe; Cablevision Systems; Charter Communications; Comcast; Cox Communications; Eagle Communications; GCI; Harron Communications; Insight Communications; Mediacom Communications; Midcontinent Communications; Sjoberg's; Suddenlink Communications; and US Cable. Time Warner Cable signed the memorandum of understanding already.

"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," Patrick C. Lynch, National Association of Attorneys General president, said in a statement. "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.”

Combined, the companies that signed the agreement provide Internet services to more than 112 million U.S. homes.

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