Filesharing may be dubiously legal (or maybe not so dubious), but until recently its only problem was IP infringement. That changed Tuesday at a hearing of the Government Reform Committee on inadvertent filesharing, where Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) said he was considering new laws to solve the threat P2P posed to homeland security. The threat? That government employees may accidentally share classified documents on their computers, making them available to terrists or organized crime. The problem with filesharing is that congressional staff are inept. Waxman said he didn't want to shut down the networks, but rather to strike “a balance that protects sensitive government, personal and corporate information and copyright laws.” The Committee had conducted searches on Limewire that turned up sensitive personal, corporate, and even military documents. From this and stories like the Department of Transportation official whose daughter installed a P2P program on the family computer and accidentally shared official DOT documents, the Committee concluded that national security was at risk.
Leaking classified documents is already a crime (unless, that is, you can un-classify them before people find out). To be sure, researchers have reported that sensitive personal information shows up on filesharing networks. Not everyone is privacy-savvy; spammers get some return on Nigerian Scam emails, too, but the solution isn't to ban email.
If your staff are too inept to keep their sensitive documents out of the folders they share on Limewire (what do they do, keep their Classified folder in their iTunes Library folder for safekeeping?), the problem isn't Limewire. The problem is your staff. It doesn't inspire a whole lot of confidence in Congress when they say government employees aren't smart enough to keep classified information classified; nor is it a confidence boost to hear that instead of prohibiting filesharing on government computers, the best solution they can think of is to outlaw it altogether.