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Senate Stops 'Peer-to-Peer' Networks

July 10, 2002|Jon Healey and P.J. Huffstutter

The Senate has cut off lawmakers and their staffs from the most popular online file-sharing networks--not so much to protect copyrights, but to safeguard the upper house's computer network.

In a notice sent out this month, the Senate's Sergeant at Arms said "many computer security exposures have been reported" by users of such popular "peer-to-peer" networks as Kazaa, Morpheus and Gnutella.

These include security holes that could be exploited by attackers, the potential for unwittingly sharing sensitive Senate files and the exchange of viruses.

After noting that the networks also were used to "distribute copyrighted intellectual property illegally," the memo says, "our security evaluation concluded that continued use of peer-to-peer client software and networks is an unacceptable operational risk to the Senate and can impact the ability of the Senate community to carry out its core missions." For that reason, the Sergeant at Arms said, connections to peer-to-peer networks were being blocked.

"We had nothing to do with this memo, but we certainly appreciate the Sergeant of Arms' understandable concern about the security risks of illegitimate peer-to-peer networks," said Hilary Rosen, chairwoman of the Recording Industry Assn. of America.

Jon Healey and

P.J. Huffstutter

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