By J. Nicholas Hoover
November 18, 2009
Following a leaked document that disclosed ethics investigations of
members of Congress on a file sharing network, the chairman of the House
Oversight and Government Affairs Committee has introduced a bill that
would ban the use of public peer-to-peer networks by federal employees.
The Secure Federal File Sharing Act, introduced by Rep. Edolphus Towns,
D-N.Y., would require the Office of Management and Budget to prohibit
the use of P2P software like BitTorrent or Limewire on government
computers and networks and to set policies on home use by federal
employees who telework or remotely access government networks.
P2P programs are a popular way to share music, movies, and other digital
content. Part of the problem is that, when not properly configured, they
can also expose personal documents stored on PCs and laptops, making the
documents widely available to anyone on the P2P network. (See "Your Data
And The P2P Peril.")
Under the bill, in order to use file-sharing networks, an agency head or
CIO would have to make a special request to use P2P software. The bill
would ban software that accesses P2P networks in which "access is
granted freely, without limitation or restriction, or there are little
or no security measures in place."
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