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US Lawmakers Set Sights On P2P Programs 180

Posted by kdawson
from the noes-of-the-camel dept.
After the FTC sent letters to 100 organizations warning them that their data is being leaked on P2P networks — and now has requested detailed operational data from at least a subset of those organizations — it was pretty likely that anti-P2P legislation would get proposed. Two senators have introduced the P2P Cyber Protection and Informed User Act, which "...would prohibit peer-to-peer file-sharing programs from being installed without the informed consent of the authorized computer user. The legislation would also prohibit P2P software that would prevent the authorized user from blocking the installation of a P2P file-sharing program and/or disabling or removing any P2P file-sharing program. Software developers would be required to clearly inform users when their files are made available to other peer-to-peer users under legislation introduced Feb. 24 by Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and John Thune, R-S.D."
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US Lawmakers Set Sights On P2P Programs

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  • "...would prohibit peer-to-peer file-sharing programs from being installed without the informed consent of the authorized computer user. The legislation would also prohibit P2P software that would prevent the authorized user from blocking the installation of a P2P file-sharing program and/or disabling or removing any P2P file-sharing program.

    They speak English on What?

    • by ig88b (1401217) on Friday February 26, 2010 @12:56PM (#31286762)
      I had to read it a couple times too. They're basically trying to prevent "hidden" p2p software.
      • by icebike (68054) on Friday February 26, 2010 @01:28PM (#31287348)

        I had to read it a couple times too. They're basically trying to prevent "hidden" p2p software.

        Exactly, or drive by installed P2P software that shares your entire disk just because you wanted a torrent of the latest OpenSUSE distro.

        While this in itself would be commendable, these things end up being a gloss of what really gets implemented in regulation. What starts out looking like protection for the consumer is really a ploy to remove plausible deniablity as a defense.

        Further, such a bill would do nothing when Little Billy, who is an authorized user of Mom's machine, gives away the family tax returns while trying to get the next level of Wonder Rabbit to download by clicking thru that popup warning.

        There are already laws prohibiting unauthorized used of a computer, and the government already knows exactly who the bot masters and spam masters are, yet they walk around untouched while the "real criminals" are sued into poverty for sharing a song. Do we really need more unenforceable laws prohibiting what is already prohibited?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by meustrus (1588597)

          Seems to me like this just does two things:

          • Software requires explicit user consent to install.
          • Software requires explicit user consent to share files.

          The first seems like common sense for all software, not just P2P (if it already existed, this provision would be redundant). If the law also clearly defined the difference between an "update" and "new software," it might prevent Microsoft from pushing out WGA as an automatic update. It could also provide legal provision against a specific hacker activity, inst

          • by cjb658 (1235986)

            Ubuntu installs a Bittorrent client by default.

            • A bittorrent client is typically harmless. It's malware writers who silently install P2P software on your computer and use your bandwidth without your knowledge that is a problem.

              Now, if Ubuntu installed a Bittorrent tracker on your computer and it was enabled by default at bootup, that would be a much larger problem that this legislation is designed to avoid.

              After reading this, I understand it's an underhanded attempt to remove plausible deniability as a defense in court, but it's surprisingly evenhanded a

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by HungryHobo (1314109)

                Why the focus on P2P?

                Surely it would be better to target all malware writers who silently install ANY software on your computer and use your bandwidth without your knowledge.

                Is it really better if it's an FTP server the malware installs rather than a bittorrent client?

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 26, 2010 @01:47PM (#31287682)

        But why have a law restricted to p2p software? Wouldn't it make more sense to prohibit this sort of hidden installation of any software?

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward
          MS would block that law.
    • by Bagels (676159) on Friday February 26, 2010 @12:57PM (#31286796)
      Basically, it sounds like there's two things here. Blocking P2P software that interferes with other P2P software in a malware-esque fashion, and enforcing clear notifications that shared files are, well, shared. Seems dumb, but a lot of folks out there don't realize that if they share "My Documents," everything from their tax records to their secret porn stash is going to be on the web for all and sundry to download. This hits home particularly hard for gov't employees, considering some of the sensitive stuff that's leaked through LimeWire and the like over the years.
      • by poetmatt (793785) on Friday February 26, 2010 @01:17PM (#31287164) Journal

        That's how I read this too. However, the devil is in the details, which we don't have.

        Given that a: usually a bill is introduced with opposite meaning to the statement of the bill if it's done by a bad politician and that b: it could be about the above but introduce some other issues, I'll hold my breath. I also can't find this act anywhere, other than it being mentioned as "to be introduced".

        This is a type of bill that could easily be subverted by bad interests depending on who influences it.

      • It sounds to me like they're specifically trying to target corporate and government agencies. This part:

        would prohibit peer-to-peer file-sharing programs from being installed without the informed consent of the authorized computer user.

        Sounds like they're making it illegal for an employee to install P2P without permission from the boss (the computer owner). It sounds like they are trying to clamp down on corporate and government files being unknowingly shared because a user wanted to download some music (or whatever else). That seems to be in line with the FTC sending notices to companies warning them that their data is being leaked.

      • by centuren (106470)

        Basically, it sounds like there's two things here. Blocking P2P software that interferes with other P2P software in a malware-esque fashion, and enforcing clear notifications that shared files are, well, shared. Seems dumb, but a lot of folks out there don't realize that if they share "My Documents," everything from their tax records to their secret porn stash is going to be on the web for all and sundry to download. This hits home particularly hard for gov't employees, considering some of the sensitive stuff that's leaked through LimeWire and the like over the years.

        If this is spurred by information being unintentionally shared by organisations (gov't offices, companies), then I don't really see how a legislated solution is at all appropriate. Organisations deploy an IT infrastructure, directly or through a 3rd party outsourcing, and have, in the same manner, been in charge of it's operation and integrity.

        Like any software a person installs with access to the Internet, one has to understand the software and, to some extent, trust it. If people are installing P2P softwa

      • Much P2P software makes it the users choice whether or not to share files so that they can say: 'The user chose to share the files, it wasn't us, so don't sue', while intentionally using defaults that share as much as possible, and making it an error prone process to limit sharing to something sane so that there will be alot of content shared online. More content being shared makes your P2P network more popular.

        Users may even be able to use 'it was an honest mistake' as a defense though probably not. A ju

      • by sjames (1099)

        That's the thing, how does one legislate that? Is a dialog box that says "Guess what?!? When you share everything in 'My Documents', that means EVERYTHING in 'My Documents'" sufficient or must you say "You shared My Documents so hgfqtjqwd.txt which is in My Documents is now shared! DUUUUUUUhhhhhH!" for each file found there? How about for files added to 'My Documents' after the software is installed?

        As for being able to block installation, are they also going to legislate that the admins on the government L

    • by BhaKi (1316335) on Friday February 26, 2010 @12:59PM (#31286820)
      Simple, mate. It just means you'll no longer be able to say "OMG! I had no idea that my computer was sharing that movie" in court.
      • If it was the underhand, self-installing, not-notifying, law-ignoring kind of P2P software you could still claim ignorance.

        "It was them evil HACKERS guv'. I had no idea! You should lock them up, not me."

        • by eleuthero (812560)
          A proper defense can now make use of this argument simply because this has been brought to public attention (and even before... I had a friend in college who had a number of interviews with the FBI because his computer had been used as a zombie for some terrorist group... it was worse for him than for others because he also happened to be a Muslim right after 9/11)... at least on a limited basis... all of the comments now make me want to go and see if my torrent program has been downloading stuff for me wit
    • No, they are legislators. Legislators rarely speak any recognizable language when discussing the law. The longer an individual is in the legislature the worse this becomes.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by choongiri (840652)
      Yeah, that's a total mind-fuck of a paragraph. My attempt at parsing it:

      would prohibit peer-to-peer file-sharing programs
      {
      from being installed without the informed consent of the authorized computer user
      }
      and
      {
      that would prevent the authorized user from
      {
      blocking the installation of a P2P file-sharing program
      }
      and/or
      {
      disabling or removing any P2P file-sharing program.
      }
      }
      • by anagama (611277)
        You got it wrong after "and". It is the software that is prohibited from blocking other software installs, not the user.
    • They speak English on What?

      No, if they did, anyone could understand what is going on. They speak legalese, the language crafted to assure that everyone is guilty of something... If I can find you guilty of something, there a pretty good chance you'll shut up and go away rather than risk drawing attention to yourself by meddling with my plans.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Not well written, I agree, but I guess the verbal logic course I took in college paid off. It says that it's illegal to install P2P software on someone's computer withiout their consent. I have no problem with that, and it doesn't go far enough. I would like to see it illegal to install ANY software on my computer without my consent.

      It also says it bans software that prevents someone from stopping its installation or removal, and again, if this applied to all software, not just P2P, it would be a good law.

    • by jonbryce (703250)

      You are not allowed to install p2p software without the consent of the authorised computer user.
      You are not allowed to prevent the authorised computer user from blocking installation of p2p software.
      You are not allowed to prevent the authorised computer user from disabling or removing p2p software.

      Or, in English. Don't install p2p progs without the computer owner's permission. Don't try to stop the computer owner from removing or disabling any p2p progs on his computer.

      Seems pretty reasonable to me, and i

  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Friday February 26, 2010 @12:56PM (#31286746)

    Most well-known P2P software is deliberately installed. And users are told where their shared files will be.

    So how would P2P software be installed without consent? Perhaps spambots and other nefarious malware?

    That makes this less "P2P-related" and more anti-spam. And that's a good thing, I think.

    • So how would P2P software be installed without consent? Perhaps spambots and other nefarious malware?

      Windows phone home maybe?

    • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Friday February 26, 2010 @01:16PM (#31287146) Journal

      Most well-known P2P software is deliberately installed. And users are told where their shared files will be.

      So how would P2P software be installed without consent?

      Happens at work all the time. The users are not authorized to install P2P Software, but it happens. Managers get administrative rights to the computers under their controls, they get lazy with permissions and give their underlings local admins... And before you know it we get a few hundred calls to ISOHunt.

      Then we drop in a couple canisters of Tear Gas, have the exits swarmed with armed IT Technicians, and shove the offenders into the back of our Van. Hellz yeah. ...

      Sigh... Do you fantasize about your job?

    • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Friday February 26, 2010 @01:36PM (#31287480)

      I don't know. I'm hugely suspicious of this, for two reasons: Congress has a nasty habit of not understanding the technological ramifications of their legislation. And when they do make legislation where they understand the ramifications, it's generally for the purpose of making sure that corporations don't have their business models cut out from underneath them.

      While on the face of it, the bill seems alright (don't hide what your program does), I don't understand why it's specifically targeting P2P programs. Wouldn't it make sense to have the bill simply say "software should never be installed without the users consent" and "software should not be misleading in their activities"? What bothers me is the insistence from the two politicians that P2P programs somehow present an inherent privacy and security risk. I'm putting on my tinfoil hat here for a second, but I'm guessing that this has to be read in the larger context that P2P software is bad in general, and should be tightly regulated.

      I don't like where this is going. As the bill reads, it won't solve any problem that currently exists, and assumes something dangerous: that a specific type of software is somehow worse than others. I'm expecting that these two politicians will soon propose bills that restrict peer-to-peer connectivity in general (goodbye net neutrality) and legislate what software can and cannot do (goodbye software startups written by a single person).

      • by centuren (106470)

        I don't know. I'm hugely suspicious of this, for two reasons: Congress has a nasty habit of not understanding the technological ramifications of their legislation.

        The former Senator and head of the committee in charge of regulating the Internet, Ted Stevens, made this abundantly and very publicly clear to us indeed.

    • I agree. I didn't RTFA, of course, but I did read the summary and the bit quoted in the summary sounds like something that should apply to software in general, not just p2p. Don't install shit I didn't specifically say I want installed. Don't stop me from disabling the software once it is installed. It also sounds like something that will be completely ignored by the sort of people who are causing software to be installed without the user's consent already.
    • So how would P2P software be installed without consent?

      If the person doing the installing (such as a corporate or government employee) doesn't have the permission of the computer owner (such as a corporation or government).

      The government doesn't really care about stopping home users from unwittingly sharing their vast collection of Word documents. It's corporate and government documents they're trying to get a handle on.

    • by sjames (1099)

      So, as long as the spy/spamware confines itself to client-server style sharing (such as FTP), it's perfectly legal?

      If that sounds silly, then a true anti spy/spam bill would have no need to mention p2p at all. If it would NOT be perfectly legal due to an existing law, then the bill shouldn't exist at all.

  • by Kuroji (990107) <kuroji@gmail.com> on Friday February 26, 2010 @12:56PM (#31286774)

    Because it's worked so well in the past, when some idiot is breaking the rules to install some sort of software that they're already not allowed to install...

    What's next, are we going to legislate against games being installed on workplace computers?

    • by Mark4ST (249650)

      Bwhen some idiot is breaking the rules to install some sort of software that they're already not allowed to install...

      What sort of rules are you talking about exactly?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Kuroji (990107)

        I would wager money that the majority of those organizations have rules against installing unauthorized programs on their computers, specifically P2P software in many cases.

        Those rules.

    • by StikyPad (445176) on Friday February 26, 2010 @01:03PM (#31286912) Homepage

      What's next, are we going to legislate against games being installed on workplace computers?

      God, I hope so. I'll change my title to Computer, and file a lawsuit the next time my superiors start playing their little reindeer games.

    • by abigsmurf (919188)
      If it stops games companies installing stealth Bittorrent clients that proceed to use up all my bandwidth, I'm all for it.
    • This is legislation basically saying a company has to conform to points 1, 2 and 3 if they want to install software X of a particular variant (in this case, P2P) on your machine.

      This is not really much different from telling a contractor that they're free to install a bathroom into your home, but that they will have to abide by laws 1, 2 and 3 regarding things like the electrical wiring.
      ( although that's based on UK and NL law - I suppose maybe in the U.S. every contractor is free to install an outlet into

      • by sjames (1099)

        This is not really much different from telling a contractor that they're free to install a bathroom into your home, but that they will have to abide by laws 1, 2 and 3 regarding things like the electrical wiring.

        Where 1 is that they must tell you that flushing will remove the contents of the toilet bowl from the room, 2 is that they must tell you that if you decide you don't want a toilet you can hit it with a sledge hammer (after turning the water off) and 3 is that they must warn you that if you turn the lights off at night, it might get dark. And, of course, 4, if you pee on the floor, flushing won't clean it up.

        To complete the analogy though, the law would also have to forbid sneaking in while the homeowner is

    • Wait, I think there's a standard form for this:

      You have proposed a:

      [x] Legislative
      [ ] Technical
      [ ] Vigilante

      approach to stopping P2P file sharing. This will not work because:

      [ ] ... and so on.

  • This is not a legal problem. Laws are not going to fix it, but will make it only harder to deal with it.

  • Doesn't, at first glance, see that all of these files aren't being placed there willy-nilly. Their computers are being targeted with simple malware,
    and the fine folks behind the malware find all of these fun and neat files and place them online for the rest of the world to see.

    Also, making illegal the "non-user aware placement of software" ?? doesn't really need yet another law to do what is already illegal.

    They just want the P2P buzzword, which does nothing.

    Computer experts really need to get the messa

    • >>>They just want the P2P buzzword, which does nothing.

      Pretty much. When I watched our "finest" leaders debating the healthcare plan yesterday, it was embarrassing. These guys don't know crap about the stuff they legislate. They're just going for what "sounds good" to the voters..... like "I banned P2P".

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hitmark (640295)

        good luck getting doctors, engineers, or something similar to drop their well payed jobs and go into politics.

  • by Dr_Barnowl (709838) on Friday February 26, 2010 @01:02PM (#31286886)

    As far as I'm concerned they should extend it further. It seems like a
    good set of principles, why limit it to programs that communicate across
    a network?

    It should be prohibited to install ANY program on a computer without the
    informed consent of the user. And programs that remove other programs,
    or block the operation of other programs, without the user being informed,
    should also be illegal.

    Of course, this would cover some of the DRM techniques that block
    disk image emulation, and probably a few other DRM techniques.

    And yes, any program that serves your files up to the internet shouldn't
    do it without your consent. Until recently, that would have included
    Windows file sharing....

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tepples (727027)

      It should be prohibited to install ANY program on a computer without the informed consent of the user.

      But how many times should the user be required to give consent for a software distribution that comprises dozens or thousands of packages? Operating system distributions like Ubuntu and Fedora come to mind.

      • by mystik (38627)

        When I ask aptitude to install apache2, I get apache2. I don't get apache2, a download manager, and a toolbar in my firefox browser.

        Heck, some packages even 'suggest' or 'reccomend' additional packages. But it's strictly OPT-IN.

        It is a sad state of affairs that Windows users have to suffer through this crap. Microsoft should of stepped up to the bar and provided Operating System features that actually belong in the Operating system, namely, package + update management.

        • by tepples (727027)

          When I ask aptitude to install apache2, I get apache2. I don't get apache2, a download manager, and a toolbar in my firefox browser.

          But when you ask the Ubuntu Live CD to install "Ubuntu", what do you get?

          • When I ask aptitude to install apache2, I get apache2. I don't get apache2, a download manager, and a toolbar in my firefox browser.

            But when you ask the Ubuntu Live CD to install "Ubuntu", what do you get?

            Technically, you are asking it to install the Ubuntu distribution of GNU/Linux. This encompasses the Linux kernel and the GNU utilities, along with other software which you can manually select during installation. Also, among Linux geeks, it is common knowledge that a GNU/Linux system comes with third-part

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by tepples (727027)

              Also, among Linux geeks, it is common knowledge that a GNU/Linux system comes with third-party software that most people expect to be present (e.g. Apache, KDE).

              You mean like Transmission, a BitTorrent client? Or Samba, a set of tools for sharing files in a way compatible with Windows? Or Ubuntu One, which allows users to back up files to a 2 GB online space (or, in a future version, across the local network) and share some of these backed-up files? All of these are included with the Ubuntu distribution of GNU/Linux, and both are "P2P" software.

    • by mounthood (993037)

      As far as I'm concerned they should extend it further. It seems like a good set of principles, why limit it to programs that communicate across a network?

      Why limit it to sharing files, rather than sharing information? Sending my MAC address to a server shouldn't be hidden.

      Also, why limit it to "peers" rather than another computer? If software phones home why shouldn't we know what's being sent?

    • by Bob9113 (14996)

      Very agreed -- same thing I was going to post.

      would prohibit peer-to-peer file-sharing programs from being installed without the informed consent of the authorized computer user. The legislation would also prohibit P2P software that would prevent the authorized user from blocking the installation of a P2P file-sharing program and/or disabling or removing any P2P file-sharing program.

      Just change it to:

      would prohibit programs from being installed without the informed consent of the authorized computer user. T

  • Drug laws, nope. Gun laws, nope. Embezzlement laws, nope. Terrorism laws, nope. Child porn laws, nope. Stupid politicians can't run for reelection laws, I'll get right on that one.
    • by theJML (911853)

      Mod this up!

      Seriously, no law that I've heard has really had that much of an effect on illegal behaviour. Sure, it gave the feds/authorities the ability to prosecute and such, but if someone wants to do something they'll do it, law against or no law against. All this does is intrude on law abiding citizens.

      That said, it sounds like a good idea from the excerpt: Prevent a program/bot/other people from installing something on your pc that will share your files/block your programs/generally annoy you or cause

  • by jtownatpunk.net (245670) on Friday February 26, 2010 @01:10PM (#31287040)

    First of all, I find it hard to believe that it isn't already illegal to surreptitiously install software on someone's computer. And even more illegal to install software that steals data.

    Second, if that's not already illegal, why are they making a law that only targets one specific type of software?

    Either the entire plan is utterly ignorant or this is a "foot in the door" to outlaw P2P. Either way, I think our government has more important issues to deal with right now.

    • by Jahava (946858)
      Good post.

      First of all, I find it hard to believe that it isn't already illegal to surreptitiously install software on someone's computer. And even more illegal to install software that steals data.

      I think the issue here (and it's legit, in my opinion) is the deliberate conscious awareness of the types of data being made available. I'm sure somewhere in EULAs and/or liability waivers, most software is protected legally. The issue that needs addressing is the general ineffectiveness of EULA-style notification relative to user awareness. Just because the information is available doesn't mean that it is effectively disclosed.

      Second, if that's not already illegal, why are they making a law that only targets one specific type of software?

      Either the entire plan is utterly ignorant or this is a "foot in the door" to outlaw P2P.

      It brings to mind exactly what they mean by "P2P". Do they mean decent

    • by HydroPhonic (524513)
      is what this law tries to ensure. No more users complaining ignorance of what their programs are "making available"... Definitely a boon for *AA organizations....
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      It's typical for the legislature to justify its full-time existence by passing laws in response to singular high-profile events (usually named after a pathetic victim), and to design the laws to prevent the event from happening by restricting individual freedom.

      In this case there was a lazy/stupid government employee who leaked information via p2p by sharing his entire drive, so lawmakers respond with a broad law that will result in millions of dollars being spent and the course of history being changed r
  • Especially if you're a constituent of one of the sponsors, it's your duty to let them know what the technical community thinks of their shenanigans. They can read what real-world people think, and if they can argue their way out of it then fine pass the bill. but I bet they can't.

    What's the point of posting an opinion here if you don't also send it to your representative?

    Congress proposes bad bill
    Everyone in the world points out how stupid it is
    Congress doesn't read the internet or newspapers
    Bill passes,

  • So we're looking at a law that requries P2P software to inform about what P2P means and demand explicit consent from the user (which everyone will doubtlessly click away as readily as we dismiss EULAs, i.e. as soon as we've found the right button).

    To me it looks like a cheap and easy way of making it look like you're solving a problem. Doesn't say anything about the severity of that problem or the efficiency of the solution, but you can't get everything I suppose.
  • their data is being leaked on P2P networks

    Because:
    (a) Someone installed a P2P file-sharing program (deliberately)

    (b) They accidently (or ignorantly) selected a folder to share that contained company data or they didn't specify which folders to share, so everything got shared by default

    Just do a quick Google search and you can find all sorts of stuff that people have exposed to the Internet -- and you don't even have to secretly install any evil P2P software

  • Minus p2p (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Strilanc (1077197) on Friday February 26, 2010 @01:22PM (#31287256)

    If you remove 'p2p' from this, it almost makes sense. Not allowing software to stealth-install or block uninstallation? Why isn't that already a law?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by julesh (229690)

      If you remove 'p2p' from this, it almost makes sense. Not allowing software to stealth-install or block uninstallation? Why isn't that already a law?

      Here in the UK, it _almost_ is. The Computer Misuse Act 1990 states:

      (a) he does any act which causes an unauthorised modification of the contents of any computer; and

      (b) at the time when he does the act he has the requisite intent and the requisite knowledge.

      (2) For the purposes of subsection (1)(b) above the requisite intent is an intent to cause a modificati

      • by julesh (229690)

        I wrote:

        The Computer Misuse Act 1990 states:

                (a) he does any act which causes[...]

        The missing text between these lines is "(1) A person is guilty of an offence if---"

  • How is this bad? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Khisanth Magus (1090101) on Friday February 26, 2010 @01:27PM (#31287322)
    I dislike the government as much as anyone, particularly their views on "piracy"...but I don't really see what is wrong with this law. It prohibits P2P software from being installed without your consent, and forces that P2P software to tell you what it is sharing with other people. How are these bad?
    • by Dunbal (464142) *

      How are these bad?

      Because the government has no business getting between me and my computer, just like my OS has no business letting things install themselves without my permission. It took redmond a while to realize that opening up the user's computer for access by the WORLD was a "bad idea", and finally they have made the default "no permission" unless authorized.

      That stupid people STILL click on anything, open any attachment, and naively load all sorts of progr

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by wjousts (1529427)

        How are these bad?

        Because the government has no business getting between me and my computer

        How are they getting between you and your computer? You can still install P2P programs, just those programs will have to tell you that they are P2P (not a problem for a program that only does P2P, but some other programs use P2P for updates that users might not understand) and tell you what they are sharing.

    • by wjousts (1529427)
      I agree, this seems to be, in general a good start. A lot of programs have P2P components that people aren't aware of and I don't see the problem with requiring those programs to shout "hey, this is P2P and this is what we are sharing with the world". If you're okay with that, you click okay and away you go. I could easily see a situation were a P2P application (or a component of some other application) is installed and the user ends up burning up their data cap without understanding why.
  • Being a /.er I, of course, only read the summary--but that makes it sound like they are preventing anyone from installing software on your computer that you don't approve of.

    Am I misreading it?

    • by anagama (611277)
      No. Your English comprehension skills are good. Presently, the first half of the comments are comprised of people who can't understand sentences with a length greater than eight words.
  • Well we do peer to peer communications over roads, and telephones and the mail. And illegal activity happens over all of those. They would not shut these down. Make laws to make certain practices illegal yes but shut them down no. Why not? Because they are used by everyone, especially the law makers. If someone found a way to get these system more integrated into society then they would have the same protections by lawmakers. Just ask an NRA Senator if anyone should take away his/her gun?

  • by voss (52565) on Friday February 26, 2010 @01:32PM (#31287418)

    Senator: Im shocked...SHOCKED theres p2p sharing going on
    Senator's Son: Hey dad I just finished updating your music collection
    Senator: Great!

  • Altough it seems a reasonable, positive, even obvious law, it might also be the first step to make it easier to sue people from sharing. If some dumb user does unawarely install something in his/her machine, not bothering to read some comprehensive, law-enforced EULA, and share some DMCA-protected content without knowing, seems to me that RIAA lawyers will have a much stronger case against them - that might be the motive they are being specific about P2P programs, and not every junk people put on their mac
  • it was pretty likely that anti-P2P legislation would get proposed.

    Anti-P2P? I do not think that word means what you think it does. If anything, this is arguably pro-P2P legislation, because the legal restriction of various nefarious practices will give compliant P2P software an air of legitimacy which it often lacks now. "We comply with all government regulations and mandates..."

  • A file is a sequence of bits carrying information.

    A packet is a sequence of bits carrying information.

    Should this legislation not logically apply to the installation of all software that transmits data packets from my computer to some other computer?

  • We should just keep passing pointless laws until our system is flooded with nothing but pointless laws and nothing useful can get done.

    While I agree that software should tell the user what their files are being shared, only programs that are already illegal fail to do that. You know, malware, viruses, etc. This doesn't actually protect anyone from anything, even their own stupidity.

    • by Duradin (1261418)

      Or just have one party throw a hissy fit and not let anything get done for four years because the president isn't from their party just on the chance one thing might have been a good idea and the "other side" could take credit for it.

  • "...would prohibit programs from being installed without the informed consent of the authorized computer user. The legislation would also prohibit software that would prevent the authorized user from blocking the installation of programs and/or disabling or removing any program. Software developers would be required to clearly inform users when their files are made available to anyone.

  • Some part of me thinks if these senators understood how it worked, the Internet wouldn't exist.

    This would outlaw Internet Explorer - you actually can use it to share files with other computers. And it is installed without the owner's consent - by Microsoft, as a part of the OS.

    Maybe this isn't a bad law after all.

  • Watch For Riders (Score:3, Interesting)

    by IonOtter (629215) on Friday February 26, 2010 @02:51PM (#31288816) Homepage

    This bill in and of itself doesn't seem so bad? Pretty stock, kinda blah, a bit silly that such a thing is being seen as requiring a law?

    But there's two potential paths.

    1. This could be used to add more charges to spammers once they get caught. Stacking the offenses, so to speak, which is fine by me, really?

    2. This is a "gimme" bill, one that's sure to pass because it's so simple and palatable. At least until they start tacking on riders, anyway? Now you've got a mild bill that has a few dozen rabid hyenas stapled to it, that nobody wants to try and kill. "Think of the Children" bills are notorious for this.

  • by JustNiz (692889) on Friday February 26, 2010 @06:20PM (#31291432)

    Superficially this is just yet more legislation that demonstrates how little our legislators actually understand the issue or the tech involved.

    My guess is that this is actually a well-reasoned step by the music & movie industries to make non-technical people (including legislators) incorrectly beleive that P2P itself (which is just an internet protocol) is somehow intrinsically bad. It makes their next step, trying to convince lawmakers to make any/all P2P illegal, easier if they are misled first.

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