WASHINGTON, D.C. – Cable operators that bring Internet service to 87 percent of homes in the United States will take additional voluntary measures to limit the distribution of child pornography on the Internet under an agreement announced today among the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA), the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), and the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG).
Under the unprecedented industry-wide agreement, all cable operators represented on NCTA’s Board of Directors have agreed to help reduce the proliferation of child pornography by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with NCMEC. This commitment represents the largest number of broadband subscribers protected by the terms of the MOU as these operators offer broadband Internet service to more than 112 million homes.
"Building on our strong commitment to online safety, the cable industry wants to help combat child pornography and exploitation," said Kyle McSlarrow, President & CEO, NCTA. “By signing the NCMEC MOU, cable Internet service providers are reaffirming their strong commitment to online safety and Internet literacy for all American families."
"We are deeply grateful for this industry-wide attack on child pornography," said Ernie Allen, President & CEO, NCMEC. "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."
On behalf of NAAG and the 45 Attorneys General who have signed a letter in support of the NCTA-NCMEC MOU, Rhode Island Attorney General and NAAG President Patrick C. Lynch commended NCMEC and NCTA on the agreement.
“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,” Lynch wrote. “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.”
Specifically, the cable companies have agreed to use NCMEC's list of active websites identified as containing child pornography, to ensure that no such site is hosted on servers owned or controlled by those companies. The companies will also report these instances to NCMEC's CyberTipline and where appropriate revise their policies around other potential sources of child pornography, such as, for example, newsgroups.
The agreement with NCMEC will provide cable broadband service providers with an invaluable source of information to help them enforce their terms of service, all of which forbid the hosting of such illegal materials on their servers. The information provided by NCMEC to cable service providers will also help them identify instances of child pornography, facilitating their reporting of such material to NCMEC as required by federal law. This in turn enables NCMEC to refer these cases to law enforcement for investigation and prosecution.
The cable operators that have agreed to execute the MOU within 30 days include: Comcast Corporation; Cox Communications; Charter Communications; Cablevision Systems Corporation; Bright House Networks; Suddenlink Communications; Mediacom Communications; Insight Communications; Bresnan Communications; Midcontinent Communications; Broadstripe; GCI; Harron Communications; US Cable Corporation; BendBroadband; Eagle Communications; and Sjoberg’s, Inc. Time Warner Cable has already signed the MOU.
NCTA’s agreement with NCMEC is the latest milestone in cable’s efforts to ensure online safety and promote Internet literacy for all families and Internet users. When NCTA launched its PointSmartClickSafe online safety initiative in June 2007, cable ISPs pledged in a code of conduct to support law enforcement in its efforts to ensure online safety for American families.
# # #
Responses to Announcement
PTA Commends Cable Internet Service Providers’ Efforts to Protect Children
CHICAGO, IL – PTA applauds the National Cable and Telecommunications Association and its member companies for agreeing to take additional voluntary measures to limit the distribution of child pornography on the Internet. These are significant steps towards eliminating child pornography on the Internet. The sexual exploitation of children has dire physical and emotional consequences for children, their families and communities involved. By working in tandem with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), these companies will help to ensure that no website that contains child pornography is hosted on servers owned or controlled by those companies. NCMEC continues to be a strong leader in the protection of children. Bringing together Internet service providers, law enforcement, child-focused organizations, and government agencies, they are leading the efforts to put an end to the deplorable practices. We are proud to partner with NCTA, Cable in the Classroom, and NCMEC and each organization’s efforts to ensure that the Internet is a safe and educationally rich environment for children and adults alike.
Statement of Marsali Hancock, President of the Internet Keep Safe Coalition
"iKeepSafe applauds and congratulates the cable industry's responsiveness to the concerns of American families. This is an important new development that allows law enforcement to quickly connect with an entire industry segment of ISP's to limit the distribution of child pornography on the Internet. This type of voluntary collaboration reflects the dedication of the industry in reducing child exploitation."
Statement of FCC Commissioner Robert M. McDowell Regarding Industry-Wide Agreement to Fight against Child Pornography
“I am delighted to hear that the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA), the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), and the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) have agreed to help reduce the proliferation of child pornography online. Today's agreement will provide cable broadband service providers with the tools necessary to protect our children from online predators.”
Statement of Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate on Agreement by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Cable Industry to Fight Child Pornography
“Today’s announcement is good news for America’s families. This partnership constitutes a ground-breaking step toward protecting children in the online world – just as in the offline one -- and I applaud the work of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and National Cable and Telecommunications Association.
With the proliferation of internet crimes but especially child pornography that continues to threaten our children, now more than ever it is critical that every segment of society contributes to the solution. Many parents still do not realize that the “virtual world” our children inhabit is actually a very real world and we must protect them as they travel the cyberspace highways of today.
This agreement, supported by 45 Attorneys General, takes an important step in that direction, giving cable operators who provide internet service the tools to effectively guard against the proliferation of child pornography on their servers, and help build a barrier to protect children from unlawful content. With the information provided, cable providers will have critical access to lists of child pornography websites identified by Center experts so that those sites can be purged from their servers, material can be reported, and offenders duly referred to law enforcement for punishment. I applaud this type of voluntary partnership, and I encourage all cable operators to take advantage of this data to protect the children and families that use their networks.
I again commend the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the cable industry for their vision and commitment to protecting our country’s most valuable resource – our children.”
Upton Applauds Cable Industry’s Partnership with National Center for Missing & Exploited Children to Fight Child Pornography
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Congressman Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph), senior member of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications, released the following statement in response to today’s announcement that the cable industry has partnered with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) to reduce the proliferation of child pornography online. The nation’s cable companies have agreed to use NCMEC’s list of active websites identified as containing child pornography, to ensure that no such site is hosted on servers owned or controlled by those companies.
“There is no more precious resource in this country than our children. They depend on us, their parents, to protect and guide them. A child’s cry for help must not be ignored and at the same time, an adult that preys upon children on the Internet MUST be caught and contained.
“I applaud the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the nation’s cable companies for their partnership to share information and shut down illegal websites that contain child pornography. Both of these organizations have made it clear that predators on the Internet and peddlers of child pornography will not be tolerated.
“As a leader on the Energy and Commerce Committee, I look forward to working with both NCTA and NCMEC to continue to help protect our children online to the fullest extent possible.”
Statement of Congressman John Shimkus
"As a member of the Congressional Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus, I am pleased that members of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association will be working to stop access to child pornography online. Charter and Comcast are two of the largest cable systems serving my district, and I am pleased they will both be participating in this program.
"Illegal postings should be removed from the Internet, and those posting illegal child pornography should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. This agreement will aid in that process."
Stevens Praises Agreement to Combat Online Child Pornography
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), Vice Chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, today praised an agreement between the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA), the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), and the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) to limit the distribution of child pornography on the Internet. Under this agreement, every cable company represented on NCTA’s Board of Directors agreed to use NCMEC's list of active websites identified as containing child pornography to ensure that no such site is hosted on servers owned or controlled by those companies.
“This agreement is an important step in combating online child pornography and I commend the groups involved for fighting against its spread across the Internet,” said Senator Stevens. “There is still more that government and industry can do together to protect children online, including education about proper online behavior and how to avoid viewing illicit material.”
Last year, Senator Stevens introduced S. 1965, the “Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act” which passed the Senate in May. S. 1965 would require schools receiving E-Rate funds to offer education regarding online behavior, including social networking, chat rooms and cyberbullying awareness and response. It also creates an interagency working group to identify and encourage technologies and initiatives to help parents protect their children from unwanted content. The bill now awaits action by the House of Representatives.
Statement by Senator Mark Pryor on the Cable Operators Efforts to Reduce Child Pornography Online
"I applaud the cable industry for committing to work with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) to limit the distribution of child pornography on the Internet. I have been a long-standing and ardent advocate for protecting children online and believe that reducing the proliferation of this offensive material is a positive step forward."
Statement from Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack
"I applaud this agreement that will improve online safety for our children," said Bono Mack. "By combining forces, the cable industry has shown its continued commitment to combating child pornography and promoting a healthier Internet environment. It is through collaborative efforts such as this that we can succeed in making the Internet a safer place for our families."
Rep. Pitts Applauds Agreement to Deter Child Pornography on the Internet
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Joe Pitts (PA-16) today applauded the recent announcement by cable companies to voluntarily agree to procedures meant to reduce the proliferation of child pornography on the internet. Specifically, the cable companies have agreed to use the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s list of active websites identified as containing child pornography, to ensure that no such site is hosted on servers owned or controlled by those companies.
"Child pornography is a grave crime against the most innocent of victims and it acts as a cancer on our society. I strongly commend the parties to this agreement and their voluntary efforts to reduce the proliferation of child pornography on the internet.”
Text of Letter from Senator Gordon H. Smith to Ernie Allen, NCMEC, and Kyle McSlarrow, NCTA
I am writing to commend both of your organizations on the recently executed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) concerning the treatment of child pornography on the Internet. By agreeing to share information and take down websites that traffic child pornography, you have made it clear that this type of material will not be tolerated.
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s (NCMEC) work fighting child pornographers on the Internet is well established. Through this MOU, cable operators across the country evidence their resolute commitment to join the effort to end the trafficking of this illicit material. The cooperative partnership with NCMEC will enable cable providers to access lists of child pornography websites identified by NCMEC experts so that those sites can be purged from their servers, material reported, and offenders referred to law enforcement. I strongly encourage other broadband service providers to follow suit.
During my tenure on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and as Chair of the High Tech Task Force, I have worked tirelessly to ensure children have a safe and educational experience on the web. Do not hesitate to call upon me directly if I can assist in protecting our children as they face new challenges in this digital age.
Once again, I commend both of your organizations for all your hard work on this MOU, congratulations and thank you.
Congressman Terry Praises Internet Agreement that will Limit Child Porn
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, Congressman Lee Terry (R-NE) issued the following statement praising internet companies who have voluntarily agreed to take measures to limit the distribution of child pornography on the internet.
“This is a monumental step in online safety for our nation’s children. I commend cable operators for reaching this agreement to work with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to rid the internet of child pornography. We must stop the exploitation of young and innocent children immediately and this historic collaboration will greatly reduce the illegal and dangerous activity of child pornography on the web.”
Radanovich Commends Historic, Cable Industry-Wide Agreement to Thwart Child Pornography
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman George Radanovich (R-Mariposa) today released the following statement commending the agreement between the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA) and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) to reduce the proliferation of child pornography online:
“The signatories of this agreement have sent a strong signal to American families that online safety is one of their highest priorities. These days, raising children can be an exhausting task for parents; the NCTA-NCMEC agreement gives parents’ one less thing to worry about by blocking websites identified as containing child pornography from being hosted on cable internet providers’ servers.
“I commend NCTA and NCMEC, for this monumental step forward in online safety and look forward to more innovative solutions from these industry leaders to our online safety problems.”
Statement from Congressman Baron Hill
"I applaud the NCMEC and the cable industry for taking this decisive, proactive step in making sure our kids are protected from such inappropriate material. Most parents realize their children are using the Internet, but are largely unaware of the dangers that lurk on it. As a father of three daughters, I genuinely appreciate this effort to make the Internet safer."