House passes P2P security bill

H.R. 3159

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The House today approved the Government Network Security Act (H.R. 3159), a bill intended to protect sensitive data on government computers from security threats posed by peer-to-peer file swapping.

Reps. Tom Davis (R-Va.) and Henry Waxman (D-Ca.), chairman and ranking member of the House Government Reform Committee, respectively, introduced the bill last month to address the increase in file sharing within the government. The bill now moves to the Senate.

While the entertainment industry is very concerned right now about the legal issues surrounding file sharing, the bill does not look at whether file sharing is good or bad. In fact, the technology "may turn out to have a variety of beneficial applications," Davis said in a statement. But it also provides a way to either take files from or add worms or other malicious code to a government system, he said.

Under the legislation, agencies would be required to develop and implement a procedure to specifically address the potential security and privacy risks through both technical and nontechnical means, such as better firewall controls and user training.

The plans must be in place within six months of the bill's being signed into law and must be reviewed and revised after that. In addition, the bill directs the General Accounting Office to conduct a review of the adequacy of agencies' plans and submit a report to both the House Government Reform Committee and the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee.

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