Lime Wire Responds to Congressional Critics

By Roy Mark  |  Posted 2009-05-04

Peer-to-peer company Lime Wire assured lawmakers May 1 that its latest software version does not allow for inadvertent file sharing. Lime Wire made headlines in April after the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform said it was reopening a 2007 investigation into inadvertent file sharing on P2P networks.

In an April 20 letter to Lime Wire Chairman Mark Gorton, the House panel's chairman blasted Lime Wire and Gorton for not carrying out its pledge to improve the security of its product. The committee demanded Lime Wire respond in writing.

"LimeWire 5 has addressed not only document sharing, but sharing of all file types. For new LimeWire users, LimeWire 5 does not share any file or any type without explicit permission from the user," Gorton wrote in response. "What's more, LimeWire 5 allows the user to clearly see what is shared and with whom. Additionally, LimeWire does not display known virus file types in an effort to protect users from compromising their computer."

Gorton said approximately 50 percent of measurable Lime Wire users had upgraded to LimeWire 5 and he expects that the number will rise to 75 or 80 percent by September. "LimeWire fundamentally changed the way file sharing works," Gorton wrote. "LimeWire started from the ground up and addressed the fundamental problems that led to inadvertent file sharing."

Congress was particularly concerned about an incident in which blueprints and the avionics package of President Obama's helicopter, Marine One, were found on a P2P network with an IP address traced back to its original source, a defense contractor in Maryland. The "Today Show" added to P2P concerns with a report that found more than 150,000 tax returns, 25,800 student loan applications and approximately 626,000 credit reports on a P2P network.

"Lime Wire has been and remains eager to assist in investigating and preventing these incidents," Gorton wrote. "That being said, the Committee's letter is the first time Lime Wire has been contacted by a state or federal agency regarding the incidents mentioned by the Committee."

Pointing out that Lime Wire provides a program and not a service, Gorton wrote, "As Lime Wire has not been provided any specific information about the incidents, Lime Wire has no unique information about the incidents beyond what is available to the public generally and has no records pertaining to such."

The House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection will hold a legislative hearing May 5 on the proposed Informed P2P User Act, which would require P2P companies to provide users with conspicuous notice of which files are to be made available to another computer and to obtain informed consent.

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