House Seeks Accounts of File-Sharing Curbs

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A House committee is showing fresh concern over peer-to-peer file sharing applications following reports that the service that allows Web users to trade pirated movies and music is also being used to obtain bank records, health files and other sensitive information.

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform fired off letters to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz requesting an account of what the Justice Department and FTC have done to curtail the illegal use of peer-to-peer, or "P2P," and what the agencies have done to protect Americans from the "dangers associated with P2P networks."

The letters cite recent media accounts of how information from tax filings to detailed blueprints of the presidential helicopter have made their way onto such file-trading services.

Two years ago, the committee held hearings on the subject and put Mark Gorton, chairman of the Lime Group, on the hot seat. (The Lime Group owns LimeWire, which is one of the most popular P2P services.)

At the time, Gorton said that he was unaware of the amount of classified data being circulated by LimeWire users and that he was willing to make significant changes to put the brakes on that sort of activity.

Committee Chairman Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.), and ranking Republican Darrell Issa of California sent Gorton a letter asking for a report on what his company has done to eliminate illegal activities associated with the use of LimeWire.

"Nearly two years after your commitment to make significant changes in the software, LimeWire and other P2P providers have not taken adequate steps to address this critical problem," they wrote. The committee has requested an answer from the company, with a deadline of early next month.

LimeWire could not be reached for comment.

-- Mike Musgrove

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