By Declan McCullagh
Politics and Law
May 5, 2009
news analysis - The U.S. House of Representatives has scheduled a
hearing Tuesday to examine a bill that would force peer-to-peer
applications to provide specific notice to consumers that their files
might be shared.
The hearing before a House Energy subcommittee comes about a month after
reports that specifications about the helicopter used as Marine One may
have been leaked through a P2P network. Meanwhile, a second House
committee is probing whether LimeWire or another P2P application was
Tuesday's hearing is expected to focus on a bill introduced in March by
Rep. Mary Bono Mack, a California Republican. The catch: while it
appears intended to target only P2P applications, the measure sweeps in
Web browsers, FTP applications, instant messaging utilities, and other
common programs too.
Bono's Informed P2P User Act says that it will be "unlawful" for P2P
software to cause files to be made available unless two rules are
followed. First, the utility's installation process must provide "clear
and conspicuous notice" of its features and obtain the user's "informed
consent." Second, the program must step through that notice-and-consent
process every time it runs.