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AT&T jettisons the last of its Usenet

A bad year for newsgroups

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AT&T has dealt another blow to the internet relic known as Usenet.

Sometime next month, the American telcom giant will terminate its entire newsgroup service. "Please note that on or around July 15, 2009, AT&T will no longer be offering access to the Usenet netnews service," reads a note sent to AT&T and posted on the company's Usenet servers.

Last July, bowing to pressure from grandstanding New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, AT&T eliminated access to all alt.binary newsgroups - i.e. all groups that serve up full-blown data files. As he had done with AOL, Time Warner Cable, Sprint, and Verizon, Cuomo coaxed AT&T into signing an agreement that cut the cord to 88 newsgroups where state investigations had turned up nearly 11,000 "sexually lewd photos featuring prepubescent children."

But like many of its ISP brethren, AT&T chose to extend this ostensible porn crackdown beyond those 88 groups. "We’ll no longer include alt.binary newsgroups [as part of its broadband package] because of the prevalence of child pornography in that particular newsgroup hierarchy, and the difficulty in ensuring that no child porn reappears in those newsgroups," an AT&T spokesman told us at the time.

Now, AT&T is bagging the entire service - though customers can still tap Usenet through third-party offerings. ®

Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet

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