Politicians Blame P2P Software For Not Stopping Gov't Employee Stupidity

from the no,-seriously dept

Would you elect as your Congressional representative someone who blamed automakers because a bad driver crashed a car through his or her own negligence? Would you elect as your Congressional representative someone who claimed that email was a threat to national security because it can (and has) been used by spies to transmit confidential data? Probably not. Why? Because that's clearly misplaced blame. However, it appears that we have elected Congressional representatives who have made an almost identical argument and stick by it when it's pointed out how ridiculous it is. A bunch of our representatives are pushing for laws against file sharing networks claiming that file sharing is a national security threat. Why? Because some idiot government employees, against gov't regulations and policy, installed file sharing networks on their computers and then screwed up the installation to make confidential files available via P2P. Yes. Because government employees are stupid and disobeying rules, file sharing system providers must be punished. This is based on an equally poorly argued USPTO report from a few months ago that incorrectly blamed P2P networks for gov't employees stupidity.

In the meantime, while this magical law is being written, (and we can't wait to see the law that will somehow punish P2P software providers in a way that prevents gov't employee stupidity), many Congresscritters teamed up to scold the head of file sharing software firm Limewire. Rep. Jim Cooper accused Limewire's CEO of being naive (amusing, since Cooper doesn't appear to understand what he's talking about) and claiming that Limewire provided the "skeleton keys" to accessing material that harms national security. If that's true, then it's equally true that any internet provider is providing similar skeleton keys. And any search engine. Plus any computer maker. Or any telephone maker or service provider. They're all about as equally guilty as any P2P provider. Yet why isn't Cooper harassing any of their executives? Cooper goes on to demonstrate his complete ignorance of what's going on by saying: "you seem to lack imagination about how your product can be deliberately misused by evildoers against this country." That's laughably wrong. The misuse isn't by so-called "evildoers." It's by gov't employees who are disobeying policy and stupidly revealing confidential documents by misusing the software. Rep. Darrell Issa then warned Limewire that it may find itself legally liable if someone were stupid enough to share their tax returns via Limewire. Does this mean if I were so stupid to post my tax returns to Blogspot that I could sue Google? Technically, that's no different than Issa's argument. This is yet another case where politicians want to regulate a technology they don't understand.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Ignorance is bliss, Jul 25th, 2007 @ 6:54am

    This is Scary

    I wonder if they will go after Webex or VPN software as well then? That's if they are trying to stop information from being shared.

    Or what about Windows Live Messenger's "shared folders" feature? Surely it does the same thing?

    Of course they won't.

    It's not about "National Security". It's an opportunity to earn campaign donations from Hollywood.

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    BMR777, Jul 25th, 2007 @ 6:55am

    Reminds me of a similar case...

    This story reminds me of a similar case in Japan where some smart-a$$ government employee had file sharing software installed (it was some Japan-only program) and he had his porn in the same shared folder as his government documents. Whoops...

    BMR777

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2007 @ 7:13am

    From Canada: Your Hollywood gets all our best actors...Can we send you our primo politicians...please...
    I have a feeling that IQ and Power are inversely proportional.
    While Funny(but sad) comments and Power are directly proportional.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Another take - - -, Jul 25th, 2007 @ 7:14am

    Imprison the guys that make bullets. Or lead.

    As a past employee in both the public and private sectors, I can say they all have both excellent AND stupid employees. The difference in government is that job securities make it quite difficult to fire them for anything less than gross misbehavior. (It's far worse in agencies that allow unionization of the employees in the public sector - which is almost universal in California where I live).

    As far as not understanding that which they govern, it's a common (and long-term) problem in politics. Wait till they start governing medical services in a big way!

    Scientists, engineers, and other knowledge-oriented disciplines are WAY underrepresented in statehouses. What happened to USEFUL diversity in government?

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Matt Rose, Jul 25th, 2007 @ 7:16am

    Sounds Like BS

    I used to work for the Department of Defense and I can tell you that you could not even install a screen saver program without an IT administrator unlocking your PC. Also, every night the network scanned the workstations to determine if any software had been installed without the IT department's knowledge. I know that we were told if they found "unauthorized" programs on our computers we would face firing.

    Most likely this was some congressional staffer who installed P2P software, since the congress exempts themselves of all of the security regulations that they apply to the rest of the government.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased), Jul 25th, 2007 @ 7:19am

    More sense

    I would hope that the government has a policy in place banning P2P software on all of it's networks. Then if some @$$hat installs it, he immediately gets canned, when caught. Problem is, they won't blame the idiot government employees, they blame someone else. Typical. Nobody wants to take responsibility for what they do. I bet it was Reps. Cooper and Issa who installed it on their own computers!? It is nice to see that money is all that matters to get yourself into office, not smarts or even innate sensibility.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Shohat, Jul 25th, 2007 @ 7:32am

    I love

    I love American politicians.
    Thank you so much for Seinfeld and your political/legal system.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Border, Jul 25th, 2007 @ 7:37am

    Jail time, not firing

    If this was a national security risk and these retards (sorry that phrase really insults retards) actually didn't know enough about Limewire or P2P period, and actually made available the documents that are considered secure, then don't just fire them for the mistake, they need to be in jail. Flat out, JAIL!

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2007 @ 7:39am

    Oh no, then I couldn't download movies, music, or games anymore. Boo hoo.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Border, Jul 25th, 2007 @ 7:46am

    .torrent

    Not to let myself be too open, but '.torrent'.Nuff said.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Jack Sombra, Jul 25th, 2007 @ 7:48am

    Either they are incredible dumb as you indicate or they are on the payroll of the likes of RIAA, who view any negative publicity of p2p (no matter how false or stupid) as good

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Border, Jul 25th, 2007 @ 7:52am

    Jack makes a good point

    Jack has made a good point. I mean these are politicians. How do we enve know if the P2P software was even installed? I want log files to make sure these congressmen aren't on the payroll for RIAA. The other people voting on this bill should be asking that same question. Even Mr Matt Rose, who stated, "I used to work for the Department of Defense and I can tell you that you could not even install a screen saver program without an IT administrator unlocking your PC. Also, every night the network scanned the workstations to determine if any software had been installed without the IT department's knowledge. I know that we were told if they found "unauthorized" programs on our computers we would face firing."
    It seems as though it would not be possible to even install the program or share anything without IT knowing about it. I know this because I am an IT guy.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous of Course, Jul 25th, 2007 @ 7:54am

    Not Stupid... Generally.

    Often when it appears that the government is doing
    something stupid, it's because they're trying to hide
    their true intent.

    I think Jack is spot on. This is just a convenient
    excuse for these whores, I'm sorry I mean politicians
    to serve their RIAA clients.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    elijah, Jul 25th, 2007 @ 8:03am

    blame the IT dept

    The IT Departments in these offices should be relying on more than just policy as a stopgap in sharing sensitive data. Why were these users allows to install anything on their machines? If these were laptops, why would they allow sensitive data on them? If these were office workstations, why wasn't the P2P traffic blocked? If these were home PC's, why would they have sensitive data on them?

    If a car accident happens at an intersection where both streets have "yield" signs, would you blame the drivers for the accident, or the people who didn't put better preventative measures in place? I'd say both... but the traffic planners are the only ones with authority to put stop signs up.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Mitch the Bitch, Jul 25th, 2007 @ 8:04am

    #3 $ #4.

    We are now calling ALL government employee's STUPID because every single person that takes a government jobs know full well that they are jumping on the "Gravy Train" that STEALS working Americans money without their consent filling their bank account and retirment account up with my money without concern.

    Guilt by association you stupid motherf#$#ers!

    It's time for a Civil War against ALL (self proclaimed) Civil servants. What a oxymoron that is eh....

    Do any of you even realize that almost half of Americans (48%) get their paycheck directly from a Government? In other words MY MONEY!!!!! At what point do we stop calling America a Republic and start calling it what it is. A Communist regime? Hillary is chomping at the bit to take over. Be scared, be very scared...

    If we can convince 100 million American Patriots to stop paying taxes (claim 10 on W2) then on April 15th we will see how these idiot traitors against the American dream can last without OUR MONEY...

    As the idiots said during the illegal immigrant fiasco they cannot round up 12 million criminals then why should 100 million worry?

    It is time....

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    NoName, Jul 25th, 2007 @ 8:07am

    Hidden Agenda

    I think this is probably just a plan to shroud RIAA and MPAA agendas in the unassailable cloak of "national security". That way, in theory, no one can question it.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Overcast, Jul 25th, 2007 @ 8:10am

    A bunch of our representatives are pushing for laws against file sharing networks claiming that file sharing is a national security threat.

    That is really... Claiming that free speech/free information is a threat to 'national security'. Actually, it's a threat to political power and their right to cover their own corruption.

    Just more work from our 'representatives' to take away our rights.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2007 @ 8:12am

    The Real Problem

    The bigger question is who is giving such stupid people access to sensitive information in the first place? That's the real problem.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Newob, Jul 25th, 2007 @ 8:40am

    The coming storm

    P2P is a threat because it is a decentralized mode of information distribution. The United States will soon become a dictatorship when a new 9/11 is staged and Bush declares martial law. The authorities will need to take control of all forms of communication in order to fight the "terrorists." Any way that you can find out information without consulting the police or the government will be outlawed, including free association and P2P. We will have REAL IDs which must be checked by a cop or a soldier on our street corners or possibly living in our homes to "protect" us. This is coming and it is because too many assholes were listening to Rush Limbaugh or Fox News and believe a conservative government will not lie to them. Stupid Americans.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Overcast, Jul 25th, 2007 @ 9:03am

    You know - I actually agree Newob. I didn't used to... but - well, go Torrent or google for Alex Jones videos - some are quite eye opening.

    Heck, at first I thought 'no way', but you know - it's just a matter of History repeating itself. The 'Elites' once again, look to gain absolute control over the 'serfs'.

    Because - absolute power corrupts absolutely.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Norman619, Jul 25th, 2007 @ 9:05am

    WTF?!

    Sorry but the employees should face jail time for this PLUS the IT department should be fired and replaced by a more competant team. Where I work we do not give users other than admin users the rights to install anything on their systems.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Norman619, Jul 25th, 2007 @ 9:08am

    Re: The coming storm

    The next 911 level attack in the US will not happen while Bush is in office. I love how you blame talk radio for the shortcomings of the American public. In the end we only have ourselvs to blame and no one else.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Sanguine Dream, Jul 25th, 2007 @ 9:17am

    I call bullsh!t

    I get the feeling that this isn't a case of some lowly peon that screwed up or else she/he would have been fired and that would have been the end of it. Maybe it was some idiot a little higher on the food chain that some sensitve info and now to cover their tracks they noticed the RIAA/MPAA's "war on piracy" and figured a way to kill two birds with one stone. Cover up their mistake and pay homage to their corporate overlords.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2007 @ 9:46am

    Re: Sounds Like BS

    I use to work for the DoD also and you COULD install just about anything you wanted. The security and restrictions to prevent this are going to vary significantly by which facility it was that you worked in, not that you worked for the DoD.

    The DoD has some very exceptionally bright security experts, they also have some, shall we say, less than dim security experts.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    cycle003, Jul 25th, 2007 @ 9:50am

    gov't agencies do ban P2P software

    As a government employee, I know that installing P2P software is strictly forbidden. The only software/websites that are explicitly band in our agency (USDA) are P2P software, as well as porn, gambling, and auction sites. This may not be law, but it is definitely explicitly stated. The government employees should be disciplined, or at most, laws prohibiting such software on government computers.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2007 @ 9:54am

    Mike, some of your stuff in the past has been... Anyway, congrats on an awesome rant/blog/article. I'm getting so tired of politicians legislating on technology when they don't even know how to turn on a computer themselves.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Charles Griswold, Jul 25th, 2007 @ 10:25am

    Re:

    I'm getting so tired of politicians legislating on technology when they don't even know how to turn on a computer themselves.
    Wikis to the rescue! http://www.wikihow.com/Turn-on-Your-Computer

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Jazmin, Jul 25th, 2007 @ 10:54am

    Re: The coming storm

    I used to think that people like Newob were crackpots.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Wow, great governement., Jul 25th, 2007 @ 11:30am

    *sigh*

    I can't configure my own to block my users from accessing potentially harmful sites, so it must be the software maker's fault! I'm too dumb to know how to block ports or administrate my own network, so it must be the software maker's fault! My cat ate a fly after watching it on my computer screen, I'll sue Samsung!

    The land of the great.

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Darkendvoid88, Jul 25th, 2007 @ 11:52am

    Wow

    i cant wait for this to happen to someone and have it taken to court cause then and only then will they realize how dumb they really are. i cant wait till all of the government F'offs die, are taken out of office, and we get somepeople that actually know what they are talking about. like that will ever happen

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    John, Jul 25th, 2007 @ 1:04pm

    What about airplanes

    Airplane have been proven to be a risk to national security since they were the tools used on 9/11 to bring down the WTC.
    Why isn't Congress scolding the CEO of American Airlines for his lack of imagination over this deliberate misuse of an airplane?

    But, too many people have been brainwashed by the RIAA and MPAA into thinking the p2p networks are evil.

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    anonymous coward, Jul 25th, 2007 @ 1:11pm

    outlaw personal computers. its back to nice, safe dumb terminals for american business.

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    George Bush, Jul 25th, 2007 @ 1:29pm

    Re:

    I dink p2p belongs in da bathroom. Da RIAA told me dat.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    A Sad American, Jul 25th, 2007 @ 1:52pm

    Motion of No Confidence

    (WWFFD) What Would the Founding Fathers Do?

    I wonder if there some new world I can move to...this one is run by idiots...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    Shun, Jul 25th, 2007 @ 3:33pm

    Police in Japan

    Post #2 mentioned that a government employee, actually it was a cop, who had a P2P program on his machine. He shared out some very confidential files, indeed.

    At any rate, the government's reaction was rational : they fired him, then tried to cover up the damage that they did. They did not go after the makers of the p2p software, knowing full well that it was hopeless.

    I would think that the government could follow the simple rule that the enemy you know is better than the enemy you make. By "banning" p2p makers, you will only drive innovation off the island. Way to go America! Thanks for the Dark Ages, Part II.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Bruce Banner, Jul 25th, 2007 @ 10:01pm

    What else can we do away with?

    OMG! My friend just choked on an apple and nearly died. Ban all apple growers! My kid stuck a pencil up his nose. Ban all writing implements! A warehouse burnt down. Ban fire! Someone was electrocuted. Ban electricity! People have skin cancer. Ban the sun!

    Morons. Which bloody holes do they crawl out of anyway? And how the **** do they end up in the Senate and even become the President anyway? This country seems to be going to the dogs...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Wade Wilson, Jul 26th, 2007 @ 6:52am

    The system has failed

    The political system, as we know it, has failed. The politicians are corrupt to the point of it's not for the people, by the people. It REALLY is for the business by way of screwing the people. There needs to be a flushing of all political figures in the places of power and reinstate the original plan of the founding fathers.

    This entire thing is a ploy by the RIAA/MPAA and the politicans they have in their pockets. "OH MY GOD!!! People aren't paying for our highly overpriced garbage!! How will we survive with only 20 million per year instead of our previous 80 million?? We'll be poor!!!" Horseshit!! It used to be said that the sharing of files hurt the artists, when they only get pennies per CD purchased. Their real income is playing live, going on tour, and license merchandise (as well as right's payments for authoring the music when it's played by radio stations and such).

    So, when they said that the software was installed, they are full of shit because it's not something that just appears on the computer. Damn dumb bastard politicans! If you don't have more common sense and intelligence than the common piss-ant, then you should be shot, end of discussion.

     

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  38.  
    identicon
    anonymous American, Jul 26th, 2007 @ 7:51am

    Re: IQ and Power are inversely proportiona

    Only if you let us send our politicians to Canada, eh?

     

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  39.  
    identicon
    Paula Skokowski, Jul 27th, 2007 @ 3:38pm

    Sharing Confidential Files - Smart people doing du

    Smart people doing dumb things with confidential files is not limited to government employees; it is also prevalent in the corporate world. In the case of the corporate world, the downside may not be a potential national security breach but it can have very serious legal ramifications, not to mention a less than flattering mention in the Washington Post.

    Should Limeware be outlawed for offering free file sharing? The question really is why someone in their right mind is even tempted to share confidential information in this manner. Does their organization offer an easy-to-use, secure means for the transfer of large files? Smart people will find a way to get the job done; unfortunately security is often of secondary concern when evaluating their options. Government and corporate employees are no different in this regard. The difficulty of sending large files over the Internet has frustrated a lot of people in the past, and still does today.

    In many organizations email attachments greater than 10MB are typically blocked. Sounds like a good IT move to keep control of email storage demands, and not bog down email performance with large file delivery. The only problem is that many files used everyday in business, and the government, are larger than 10MB.

    What options do people have who need to send a large file? If an IT organization isn't providing a secure large file transfer capability that is readily accessible to business (and government) users, then people will find their own way. Historically, the choice of software tools for secure large file transfer have not been very user friendly, or easily accessible. No wonder P2P looks tempting. However times are a-changing. Accellion is a secure file transfer capability in use by government, and corporate users, that focuses on ensuring file security while at the same time letting people get their jobs done.

    Rather than outlaw P2P software, how about ensuring government (and corporate) employees have the right tool to share files securely? Accellion.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
    Zeb, Jul 31st, 2007 @ 2:40pm

    Re: The coming storm

    Liberal governments lie too. Governments in general lie. What most Americans have trouble believing is that our government can be just as sneaky as the next one, democratic or otherwise.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    identicon
    Sere, Jul 27th, 2010 @ 1:53pm

    Re:

    Hah, great article! Unfortunately I've heard this story happen to others. It's a big issue in companies and in order to avoid these incidents, company's need to give employees the tools and have the processes in place for secure file transfer. There are many technologies out there like managed file transfer software designed for this type of application.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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