CP80 – Internet Channel Initiative

At the Utah Valley Business Expo last week I ran into a company that is fighting pornography — CP80. I had subscribed to their newsletter a while ago but didn’t know they were a Utah company. I met their president and some of the employees and was impressed by how strongly they feel about the issue.

As a bit of background, Internet traffic is divided into separate “channels” which are called “ports”. For example, port 80 is for web pages, port 443 for secure web pages, port 25 for email between ISP’s, and port 5190 for AOL Instant Messenger. There are over 65,000 ports in all, and many of them go unused.

CP80 is advocating that pornographic web sites be transmitted, by law, over a separate port. (The company was originally named Clean Port 80, implying that only “clean”, non-pornographic material should be transmitted over port 80.) This is similar to separate cable channels for TV shows.

If all pornographic material were transmitted over a separate port, it would be easy for filtering software to work — simply disallow content from the “porn channel”. This would make it easy for parents and schools to protect children from pornography. As it is now, internet filtering programs generally don’t work well because they have to maintain a database of “bad sites” or look for “bad words” in the text.

Like the idea of a separate TLD for porn sites, CP80 will only work if all porn publishers are required by law to transmit over a separate channel and the law well enforced.

If CP80 can get the right legislation passed, this is an intuitive solution to the problem. They’ve already met with all the Utah Congressmen. Senator Orrin Hatch said pornography is a “clear and present danger to children and families,” an interesting choice of words since those words represent the legal basis for limiting free speech.

More: Utahn tries new tack in battle over Net porn

11 thoughts on “CP80 – Internet Channel Initiative”

  1. As I argue in my blog post below, the proponents of CP80 seem to have a hidden agenda. In particular, they obviously have an intent to aggressively attack “Open Ports” with traffic shaping technologies otherwise this quote wouldn’t make sense

    “No longer will non-porn viewing consumers be forced to subsidize porn-viewing consumers—because the average porn-viewing consumer uses a considerably more bandwidth than non-porn viewer.”

    The above statement only makes sense if they are intending that traffic shaping mechanisms will be deployed against Open Ports. Yet, the proposal doesn’t explicitly state this, apparently for fear of scaring the horses.

    Americans might like to consider who gets to determine what is acceptable content for Community Ports and what happens if non-acceptable content gets routed via second-class pipes that is flooded with porn. Will your news from Iraq, Palestine or Afghanistan be effectively censored because it is too graphic for community ports and has to fight for bandwidth with traffic-shaped or filtered porn?

    http://broadbannedrevolution.blogspot.com/2008/01/cp80-designed-by-americans-for.html

  2. Jon Trauntvein: Thanks for your comments.

    1. I purposely simplified the concept of TCP ports to make the post more readble. I think it’s reasonable to compare TCP ports to channels, i.e. port 80 is the web “channel”, port 5190 is the AOL chat “channel”, etc. True, these ports are conventions more than hard-set requirements, but the word “channel” is more intuitive for most people than “port”.

    I agree that ISPs aren’t exactly like cable companies. But requiring porn to be transmitted over a specific port and requiring ISPs to filter porn at the request of their customers would make ISPs much more like cable companies.

    2. The “ephemeral” ports used by client devices don’t substract from the ports available to servers. CP80 would require porn not to be served from port 80, but client devices could still connect from any port. There is no shortage of ports. This doesn’t matter anyway since CP80 would only require 1 additional port for pornography.

    3. I don’t think it would be cost effective to have regulators. Rather, I envision that if a family asked its ISP to filter the porn port and subsequently found a porn site on the “clean port”, the site would be reported and subject (assuming it is hosted in the U.S.) to a heavy fine.

    4. For sites hosted offshore, CP80 suggests a white list of compliant IP blocks: http://www.cp80.org/solutions/ip-block.html . Parents could choose to allow or disallow offshore sites.

    5. I don’t believe CP80 is about having ISPs filter content. CP80 is the easiest porn filtering solution for an ISP to implement – simply block the porn port for customers that request it.

    6. Your attitude of responsibility is commendable. I don’t believe CP80 would lessen the need for good parenting, but it could lighten the load for good parents. Why not use your resources and strength to support a cause that will help other parents and children?

    CP80 isn’t perfect, but it’s a notch above the “.xxx” domain idea, and the difficulty of implementing something shouldn’t be an excuse for doing nothing.

  3. Jon Trauntvein
    HL Menken wrote: “For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong”

    I fear that this solution strikes me as being overly simplistic and seems to be based upon several misunderstandings.

    1. The appropriate term for a TCP service is that it is offered on a TCP Port. Port 80 happens to be the “well known” port on which HTTP is offered. Every computer that is connected to the internet as a server can offer services on whatever port is wanted by the computer administrator. To call this a channel and to compare this to cable service is a grave mistake because it implies that the ISP is in complete control over what is accessed through the internet. In truth, the ISP merely provides a “pipe” that connects to a global network.

    2. On the comment that “many of the 65535 ports go unused”: Every time that your browser opens a TCP connection to a server, an “ephemeral” port is allocated for that connection. TCP simply doesn’t work unless there is a large pool of “unused” ports to use for temporary purposes.

    3. The only way to make this proposal work is to have the federal government have regulatory control over every machine that is connected to the internet that offers HTTP service. How is this going to be enforced? How is it going to be implemented. Are there going to be federal inspectors that have to inspect every server to make sure that it offers appropriate content on port 80? Do we really want the federal government involved in this kind of activity (it seems to me that it is already too bloated).

    4. Supposing that such legislation could be passed and enforced. The authors seem to ignore the fact the the internet is a world wide phenonemon and that all of the legislation that we pass in the US is not going to do one blessed thing in the rest of the world.

    5 . The only other solution then, one that I’ve seen scrupulously avoided above, is that the proposed legilation will force internet service providers to enact filtering on web content. Such filtering is problematic at best. It is either far too permissive or far too restrictive. I would object strenously to such a move and doubt that any legislation that would force ISPs to filter would not pass constitutional muster.

    6. This leads me to one inescapable fact: I am responsible for my own actions as well as for my family. I am responsible for my choices and accountable to my God for how I use my resources and strength. I am responsible for teaching this to my children or, at least, helping my children to learn this principle on their own. I have no intent on abdicating this responsiblity for myself or for my family.

  4. BYU’s newspaper, The Daily Universe, ran a large article yesterday on CP80. A student team also presented on it in my Business Processes and Controls class.

    As we were discussing CP80 in class, the idea came up that ISPs could charge a premium to give access to the “adult channel” as cable and satellite companies do with their premium channels. This could give some incentive for the ISPs to jump on-board and support this initiative.

  5. Gives us all hope to know that there are ways to destroy or at least quarantine this virus. I join you in fight against pornography! May our ranks increase daily!
  6. It could actually do these guys more harm than good to talk too much about what they are doing before they get a big enough political backing with some teeth.

    The second the porn industry finds out about this, they will be all over it. I had a lenghty discussion about it with one of the people at the booth.

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