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Bill Targetting P2P Slated For Markup

Most of the recent talk about peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing has surrounded FCC efforts to prevent ISP's from blocking the service, but the House Energy & Commerce Committee this week will mark up a bill that seeks to protect computer users from unauthorized peer-to-peer file-sharing.

The Informed P2P User Act (HR 1319) will be marked up Sept. 30 in the committee, along with a data security bill dealing with protection of online personal information.

The P2P bill, introduced by Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R- CA), would establish the unauthorized use of a computer by a P2P program to be an unfair and deceptive act. Unauthorized use would include failing to inform computer users that their computers were being used as part of the file-uploading network.

Computer owners would also have to give "informed consent" before their computers could be used for P2P file sharing.

Joining Bono Mack were ranking Energy & Commerce Committee member Joe Barton (R-Tex.) and John Barrow (D-Ga.).

Bono Mack's constituents include Hollywood studios concerned about the sharing of pirated films and TV shows via the P2P protocol, which translates the power of multiple computers into faster downloads of big files like video.

The Motion Picture Association of America, for example, has this stern warning on its Website. "When you download a file from the P2P services, you're not just receiving stolen goods, you're now a dealer, responsible for all the violations that others are enabled to commit as a result. Besides putting yourself at risk of the legal consequences of illegally distributing movies, you're opening your computer up to potentially dangerous situations. By inviting complete strangers to access your hard drive, you risk exposing your private information such as bank records, social security numbers and personal pictures."

Also getting a mark-up at the hearing wil be the Data Accountability Act, which also deals with computers, personal information and informed consent.

That bill, backed by Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), who chairs the Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection Subcommittee, would require the Federal Trade Commission to come up with rules for the protection of personal information being collected, used, or resold online online and require notification when that security had been breached.