House Panel Says No to Federal P2P File Sharing

Bill is more to close security and privacy dangers than to curb illegal downloading of music or video by bureaucrats.

Further demonstrating that its not only teenagers who are engaged in unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, a congressional committee that oversees government reform approved a bill today that would discourage federal bureaucrats from P2P activities.

The "Government Network Security Act of 2003," introduced just yesterday by Reps. Tom Davis, R-Va., and Henry Waxman, D-Calif., would require federal agencies to take steps to protect their computers from the risks of P2P activities.

The House Government Reform Committee rapidly approved the legislation this morning.

The explicit purpose of the bill is not so much to curb illegal downloading of music or video by bureaucrats, but to close potential security and privacy dangers to government computers. Committee members raised concerns earlier this year that confidential financial, medical and legal documents could be obtained through file sharing programs.

The legislation does not spell out the specific protections that agencies must implement, but it requires both technical means, such as hardware and software, and non-technical means, such as employee policies. Congress has tried to reduce the risks of file sharing by installing firewalls and training employees, according to Davis.

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