A lesson in lawmaker’s call for P2P ban

By Anne Collier

Whether or not even feasible, a call in Congress for a ban on P2P file-sharing by government workers is very instructive for households where kids share a lot of music. The main takeaway: A lot more than music can get shared. But let’s back up. The story is that Rep. Edolphus Towns (D) of New York, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is calling for the ban because of “an embarrassing security breach [that] revealed details of dozens of ethics investigations,” the Washington Post reports. “The information came from a committee document that a junior staffer had exposed on her home computer, which was using peer-to-peer technology. A non-congressional source with no connection to the committee accessed the document and gave a copy to The Post.” Clearly the file-sharing software on her computer wasn’t configured to share only music files. And clearly a huge mistake. But if not at the federal level, the solution at the household level is simple: With any file-sharers at your house, look at the preferences and see how they’re configured. See which folders on the computer are designated for sharing files – hopefully not income tax files, household budget files, family correspondence, medical files. Personal security breaches have been known to happen. See “P2P’s risks: New study” and “FTC on P2P.”

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