P2P and Privacy

In recent weeks, the Canadian Recording Industry Association has made several public statements about peer-to-peer file sharing and privacy. In letters to the editor criticizing the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC), both Graham Henderson and Richard Pfohl have declared that P2P services constitute "the number one threat to privacy on the Internet."

It would seem that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission does not agree.

The FTC has just released a report on a major workshop held last year on P2P. It summarizes the discussion on the privacy threat posed by P2P by noting that "participants appeared to agree that the risks consumers face when downloading and using P2P software are the same type of risks consumers face when using other technologies on the Internet, such as e-mail. However, participants disagreed on whether these risks from use of P2P file-sharing programs were greater than, equal to, or less than the risks from use of these other technologies."

While the FTC concludes that "workshop panelists and public comments did not provide a sufficient basis to conclude whether the degree of risk associated with P2P file-sharing programs is greater than, equal to, or less than the degree of risk when using other Internet technologies,", their actions speak louder than words. The report later notes that:

"P2P file sharing, like many other consumer technologies, is a 'neutral' technology, i.e., its risks result largely from how individuals use the technology rather than being inherent in the technology itself. Although it has required warnings with respect to inherently dangerous products, the Commission concluded that it was not aware of any basis under the FTC Act for requiring warnings for P2P file sharing and other neutral consumer technologies."

One Comment

  1. Ivo Santos says:

    Here’s one for all of you!..

    The music industry and the film industry want to band all types of P2P software, because it is used for illegal purposes.

    Cars, trucks, and busses are also used for illegal purposes, so why not ban cars, trucks, and busses!!…