Congress Weighs P2P File-Sharing Rules
Jaikumar Vijayan, Computerworld
The House Energy and Commerce Committee of the U.S. Congress last week passed passed the Informed P2P User Act , which is designed to make it safer for consumers to use peer-to-peer, or P2P, file-sharing software. The bill, which was introduced by Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.) in March, now goes to the full House for approval. If passed, the bill would require developers of file-sharing apps to clearly explain to users whether and how their files will be made available for sharing with others on a P2P network. The bill would make it illegal for P2P developers to make software that causes files from a computer to be inadvertently shared over a P2P network without a user's knowledge. It would also require the developers to clearly inform users about files that are being made available for searching and sharing, and would mandate that a user agree to the file-sharing first. The law was proposed in an attempt to address growing concerns about the problem of inadvertent data leaks on P2P networks. The issue has received considerable attention from lawmakers recently. In July for instance, members of the members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee heard how Tiversa, a vendor of P2P monitoring services had found details on a U.S. Secret Service for the First Family on a LimeWire file-sharing network. The committee also heard from Tiversa on how it unearthed details on presidential motorcade routes and a sensitive but unclassified document listing details on every nuclear facility in the country on a LimeWire network. The disclosure prompted Rep. Edolphus Towns, (D-N.Y.), to call for a ban on the use of P2P software on all government and contractor computers and networks.