R. Edolphus Towns, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee, has introduced the Secure Federal File Sharing Act, which will ban peer-to-peer applications on federal systems. The move follows the recent leak of a document on an ethics investigation into members of Congress via a P2P application.
The bill will require the Office of Management and Budget to prohibit the use of any P2P applications on government networks by federal employees. Additionally, OMB will be responsible for producing guidelines and policies for federal employees who work remotely on home use of P2P applications. Any P2P applications used on a government system would requires a special request from a CIO or head of the agency. OMB would also be required to document every P2P application on government systems and justify the use of each application to Congress.
The leak of the confidential ethics investigations were the latest in a string of breaches via P2P software. Personal data on US soldiers has been made available over P2P networks and classified documents have been downloaded by computers in China. A P2P watchdog, Tiversa, claimed that information on a Secret Service safe house was leaked on popular P2P application Limewire. Also, the design of the president’s helicopter was downloaded by computers in Iran after the schematics were leaked from a contractors computer that possessed P2P software.
A central problem with P2P software is that often documents that an individual did not mean to share are shared without their knowledge. Some P2P applications allow access to a number of folders and files stored on a computer.