House weighs bill protecting accidental P2P data leaks

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The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee has passed a bill intended to prevent inadvertent disclosure of information on peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing programs.

The Informed P2P User Act, set forth in March by Reps. Mary Bono Mack, R-Calif., John Barrow, D-Ga., and Joe Barton, R-Texas, would require that users be notified and permitted to consent before they installed P2P client software to make files publicly available. The bill was passed by the Energy and Commerce Committee last Wednesday and it will now go to the full House for approval.

“We are all too familiar with the danger of inadvertent sharing of sensitive information through the use, or misuse, of certain file sharing programs,” said Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, during his opening remarks Wednesday. “Tax returns, medical files, and even classified government documents have been found on these networks.”

The bill would require P2P providers to give notice as to which files, specifically, are available to users of the network. In addition, it would prevent P2P providers from stopping users who want to block installation of file-sharing programs or disable them once they are installed.

Meanwhile, the threat posed by P2P networks also has been a focus for other members of the House. In July,  Rep. Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y., announced his intention to propose a bill that would ban P2P software on government and contractor computers and networks.


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