House Approves P2P User Act

Legislation requires peer-to-peer vendors to provide notice to users about files that will be shared by their software and to proactively obtain a user's consent to install the file-sharing software. The bill also prohibits P2P vendors from blocking users' reasonable efforts to disable or remove file-sharing software.

The third time proved the charm for Rep. Mary Mack Bono (R-CA) as the U.S. House approved the Informed P2P User Act Dec. 8, mandating P2P (peer-to-peer) software vendors to provide a "clear and conspicuous" notice to consumers about the files being shared by the software and to obtain user consent for sharing the files. Mack had unsuccessfully pushed for the same legislation in two previous sessions of Congress.
The bill, approved on a voice vote, mandates P2P vendors disclose the notice and consent immediately prior to the installation or downloading of P2P file-sharing programs. The legislation also prohibits P2P vendors from blocking users' reasonable efforts to disable or remove from their computers P2P programs.
The bill now moves to the U.S. Senate.
"Too many consumers don't realize that by using P2P software, they could be exposing all of their personal files -- from family photos to bank account information -- to complete strangers on their network," Bono Mack said in a statement. "This problem has persisted far too long, and industry has failed to effectively respond in a way that will keep Americans safe online. This legislation takes a common sense -- and needed -- approach that will ensure that users are aware of what personal files are at risk when they use P2P file sharing programs."
P2P programs are one of the fastest-growing uses of Internet technology. Bono Mack has complained for years that many P2P users are unaware the file-sharing programs can make all of a users' files available to other P2P users. Personal information such as tax returns and medical records have been reported stolen through P2P software.
"With so many criminals, including child pornographers and identity thieves, stalking the Internet, it is all the more essential that Americans know when their personal information is at risk and how to protect themselves and their families online," Bono Mack said. "I am pleased that my colleagues in the House of Representatives recognize the importance of this issue and am hopeful that the Senate will act swiftly in passing this legislation as well."