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Government

USPTO: Filesharing poses national security risks

DoD documents have been found unprotected on nongovernment computers, proof that sensitive employees should not be running LimeWire.
Written by Richard Koman, Contributor on

The US Patent and Trademark Office has issued a report that finds filesharing programs "threaten the security of personal, corporate, and governmental data,” according to Jon Dudas, the Bush Administration’s point person on copyright policy.

According to a government press release, distributors intentionlly included features to facilitate filesharing, even against users' desires. Despite warnings from Congress, some software developers continued to include features that had a "known or obvious potential to cause inadvertent sharing."

The report also shows that inadvertent sharing has had severe consequences for governments, corporations and individuals. In a 2005 Information Bulletin, the Department of Homeland Security warned that inadvertent filesharing could compromise national security: “There are documented incidents of P2P file sharing where Department of Defense sensitive documents have been found on non-US computers with no protection against hostile intelligence.”

And the programs pose a risk to individual users, as well.

On November 30, 2006, the Denver District Attorney indicted a gang of identity thieves who had used the program LimeWire “to access names and account information from personal and business accounts across the country, and then use that information to open new bank accounts in the Denver area.” The indictment alleges, “The group’s common goal was to obtain and use methamphetamine as well as steal money and merchandise for personal use.”

The report can be found at http://www.uspto.gov/main/profiles/copyright.htm.

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