Recent Press Releases

Klobuchar, Thune Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Improve Privacy and Security for Internet Users

Cyber protection bill will protect consumers at risk for widespread information theft found by FTC investigation

February 24, 2010

Washington, DC —  Today U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Thune (R-SD) announced legislation with that will help make internet users more aware of privacy and security risks associated with peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing programs. The bill, known as the P2P Cyber Protection and Informed User Act, would require software developers to clearly inform users when their files are made available to other P2P users.

“As a former prosecutor, I know that identity theft and security leaks can be prevented,” said Klobuchar. “Families across Minnesota run the risk of unintentionally sharing all of their private files like tax returns, legal documents, medical records, and home movies when they are connected to peer-to-peer networks. This bill will let people know – in a way that they can understand – that their personal files are being shared with complete strangers.”

“It is important that consumers are aware of the privacy and security threats associated with some peer-to-peer file-sharing programs. The P2P Cyber Protection and Informed User Act is an important step in achieving this goal,” said Thune.

This week the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) notified nearly 100 organizations that the use of P2P programs on their computer networks had resulted in significant data breaches involving sensitive information about customers and employees. The FTC’s investigation of peer-to-peer networks found that users of these networks risk the exposure of personal information, including health-related information, financial records, and drivers’ license and social security numbers, which can lead to identity theft.

P2P networks are the largest contributors of Internet traffic as millions share music, videos, pictures, and documents. Instead of using a central server like a typical network, a P2P network allows users to share files directly through a network of computers running the same P2P software. While P2P programs are incredibly innovative and useful, they can pose identity theft and security risks.

The P2P Cyber Protection and Informed User Act requires file-sharing software to obtain informed consent of users before information on their computers is shared, preventing photos and video files from falling into the hands of sexual predators who troll these networks.

    Specifically, the P2P Cyber Protection and Informed User Act:
  • Ensures that P2P file sharing programs cannot be installed without providing clear notice and obtaining informed consent of the authorized computer user.

  • Makes it unlawful to prevent the authorized user of a computer from:

    1. Blocking the installation of a peer-to-peer file sharing program, and/or
    2. Disabling or removing any peer-to-peer file sharing program.

  • Gives enforcement authority to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

The bill has support from child safety groups such as Stop Child Predators, industry groups such as the RIAA, and 41 state Attorneys General. Similar legislation passed the House on December 8 by voice vote.