House passes P2P software reform bill

Proposal would restrict peer-to-peer software on all federal government and contractor computers

The House has passed a bill that would restrict the use of peer-to-peer software on all federal government computers to improve security.

H.R. 4098 would ban the recreational use of P2P software on all federal computers, systems and networks including those belonging to government contractors, according to a statement by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which had jurisdiction over the bill. The measure passed 408-13 on March 24.

The bill would also require the Office of Management and Budget to approve legitimate uses of P2P software on a case-by-case basis and annually provide Congress with a list of agencies that are using such software and the reasons for doing so.

“We can no longer ignore the threat to sensitive government information, businesses and consumers that insecure peer-to-peer networks pose," said Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.), the committee's chairman. "Securing federal computer files is critical to our national security.”

Earlier, Towns said the bill was needed to avoid future security lapses similar to the information leaks about the president's Marine One helicopters and Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer's finances.

The measure now moves to the Senate for consideration.

About the Author

Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Federal Computer Week.

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Reader comments

Tue, Mar 30, 2010 DC

Honestly I'm more shocked that anyone is surprised or shocked legislation was needed - not like it will make any difference. In every case I've dealt with in testing new software or hardware, if a security concern was identified, big or small, it would be approved 'on a limited basis' for an individual if they had enough 'politcal clout' - read, Obama's appointees. Whatever they want, they get - concerns for our security (classified included) are thrown out the window, or else you face their temper tantrum. Keep in mind it was just as bad with Bush's appointees... basically anyone with an ego trip.

Mon, Mar 29, 2010 Robert L Santuci Jr Orlando, FL USA

This seems like such a no-brainer that I am shocked that it has to be legislated. P2P shouldn't be used on any computer that's related to business or government unless there is a business need for it and it is under the most stringent guidelines.

Mon, Mar 29, 2010 OR

I'm surprised, because I thought this was already the case! My agency has had a ban for years (though some people - mostly at headquarters - ignore it to use skype, which is classified as p2p).

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