FCC Warns Against File Sharing Sites


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Peer-to-peer file-sharing networks such as those used by individuals to exchange music and video files pose enormous security risks for people and organizations, the Federal Trade Commission warned Monday.

The public announcement was immediately hailed by the MPAA and RIAA, which have long waged antipiracy campaigns against P2P webs. The FTC said it has notified almost 100 organizations that personal information, including sensitive data about customers and/or employees, has been shared from the organizations' computer networks and is available on P2P networks. It also said it has opened investigations of other companies whose customer or employee information has been exposed on P2P networks.

“Companies and institutions of all sizes are vulnerable to serious P2P-related breaches, placing consumers' sensitive information at risk," said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz. “For example, we found health-related information, financial records, and drivers' license and social security numbers -- the kind of information that could lead to identity theft," he said.

MPAA general counsel Daniel Mandil agreed that “for the millions of men and women working in film, television, music, software and other creative industries, P2P networks have become a serious threat to their livelihoods by serving as a major platform for illegal trafficking in stolen copyrighted material." He said MPAA welcomes the FTC's efforts to spread the word about the risks.

RIAA topper Mitch Bainwol called the FTC warning “an all too familiar refrain: a story of another security breach caused by the abuse of p2p technology." Bainwol said “countless private citizens, corporations and government systems have been put at risk by entities that design a p2p product knowing that intense exchanging of files on open software programs brings unacceptable risk to others."

Yet while the government warning is welcome, “it does not fully address the persistent problems caused by bad actors who profit every day as they jeopardize privacy and computer networks," said Bainwol.

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