July 29, 2009

Oversight Committee To Investigate P2P Networks

The Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee said he intends to meet with other top government officials in an effort to "referee" peer-to-peer file sharing networks.

Committee Chairman Edolphus Towns announced the plan in light of new reports of people accessing classified FBI files, medical records, Social Security numbers as well as a safe house location for President Barack Obama through the P2P network known as LimeWire.

"It is clear that private citizens, businesses, and the government continue to be victims of unintentional and illicit file sharing," Towns said in a closing statement following a hearing on inadvertent file sharing over P2P networks.

"At its best, with the proper safeguards in place, peer-to-peer software has great potential."

"At its worst, it isn't peer-to-peer; it's predator-to-prey," said Towns.

Towns said he intends to meet with the new Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in order to call for an investigation of possibly "inadequate safeguards" on file sharing networks like LimeWire.

"The Administration should initiate a national campaign to educate consumers about the dangers involved with file sharing software," said Towns. "The FCC needs to look at this, too."

Mark Gorton, Founder and Chairman of LimeWire testified during the hearing. He said that any flaws in the system, which allowed users to access protected data, had been fixed with the issuance of the new software update.

"Are we perfect? No," Gorton said. "We have made enormous strides in the last few years."

"In order for a LimeWire user to change their default settings to enable document sharing, they have to click nine times and disregard three warnings," Gorton said.

"The file-sharing software industry has shown it is unwilling or unable to ensure user safety. It's time to put a referee on the field," Towns concluded.


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