Home Let My P2P Go: Uncle Sam Eyes File Sharing Again

Let My P2P Go: Uncle Sam Eyes File Sharing Again

In the wake of a leak of an international trade agreement on online file-sharing and copyright violation, U.S. House representatives are introducing legislation to curtail the greatest of American freedoms: the illegal download.

Let’s not kid ourselves, dear readers. P2P’s best use cases all revolve around the liberation of data, software, music, movies, and other copyrighted and rather expensive content. You may direct your angry emails to Rep. Edolphus Towns (NY-Dem.), who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Towns is sponsoring the Federal Secure File-Sharing Act. Click the link and read it.

At the outset, the bill proposes the banning of P2P software use for government employees and contractors “and for other purposes.” The bill mandates the long-term examination of “each open-network peer-to-peer file sharing software program” that might currently be in use by government and law enforcement personnel.

Towns cited the exposure of sensitive information via such networks as the reason for the bill. He cited the following leaks as proof of the need for stricter P2P regulations:

  • Schematics for the President’s helicopter, Marine One.
  • Financial data on Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.
  • Location of a U.S. Secret Service safe house for the First Family.
  • Specifics of a House Ethics Committee document containing a list of ongoing investigations


But let us be realistic: Copyright claims, Creative Commons concerns, and IP violations are the molten core at the center of any legislation on P2P networks. And based on recent internationally agreed-upon efforts to uphold the claims and wishes of copyright holders, the U.S. government seems to be introducing yet more legislation to restrict piracy.

Are P2P networks truly responsible for such serious security breaches? Or are these claims merely politically motivated scapegoats for government to crack down on user behaviors – behaviors that may need more examination than legal discipline?

Most importantly, if this bill is made law, will it act as a precedent for stricter policing and eventual shutdown of P2P networks altogether? Or are we reactionary skeptics who need to calm down and quietly resume our download of our Hello, Dolly torrent files? Choose your own adventure in the comments.

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