Cuomo: AT&T, AOL will purge child porn

Two of the nation's largest Internet providers have eliminated access to newsgroups that featured child pornography, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said Thursday.

AT&T, the nation's largest Internet service provider, and AOL, the third largest, also agreed to purge their servers of child porn websites.

Cuomo said ISPs can't "drag their feet when it comes to protecting our children and instead must quickly purge child porn from their servers."

He announced similar commitments last month from Verizon, Sprint, and Time Warner Cable.

The agreements came after investigators from Cuomo's office reviewed millions of pictures over several months and found 88 different newsgroups that contained 11,390 lewd photos of prepubescent children. They developed a system for identifying illegal images by their unique "hash values" — a kind of digital fingerprint — that could then be used to search for the same image anywhere else it appeared on the Web.

By building a library of the images, investigators were able to filter through tens of thousands of online files at a time, speedily identifying which providers were allowing access to child pornography.

Cuomo also announced a new website,, that provides details on which Internet service providers have signed agreements with his office to eradicate access to child porn through their servers.

It also provides information on how to contact providers that have failed to make the same commitment to eliminate child porn.

Cuomo has used similar investigations and the possibility of civil or criminal charges to extract concessions on Internet safety in the past. Last year, he reached agreements with the social networking sites MySpace and Facebook to toughen protections against online sexual predators.

Cuomo's office also drafted the "Electronic Security and Targeting of Online Predators Act," which was signed into law by Gov. David Paterson in May. It restricts certain sex offenders' use of the Internet.