Stop Child Predators applauds Federal Trade Commission for warning of improper release of consumer data on P2P networks

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced Monday that they have notified over 100 organizations that sensitive information has been shared from the organizations' computer networks and is available on peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing networks. Information on P2P networks can be accessed by other users of the network and used to commit identity theft or fraud.

P2P networks are distributed networks composed of participants that directly share resources such as processing power, disk storage and network bandwith available directly to their peers without intermediary network hosts or servers. This lack of monitoring often creates a fertile ground for illegal activity, such as distribution of sensitive material and child pornography. Additionally, information can be inadvertently shared on these networks if users are not careful.

The FTC found several instances of such information being shared over P2P networks.

"Unfortunately, companies and institutions of all sizes are vulnerable to serious P2P-related breaches, placing consumers' sensitive information at risk. For example, we found health-related information, financial records, and drivers' license and social security numbers - the kind of information that could lead to identity theft," said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz.

In the notification letters, which went to organizations ranging in size from 8 employees to tens of thousands, entities were encouraged to review their security practices and reminded that protecting sensitive information is their responsibility. To assist in this effort, the FTC created a brochure about Internet security for organizations. There is also a tip sheet for consumers.

"Stop Child Predators applauds the efforts of the FTC to regulate P2P networks, which are notoriously difficult to monitor," SCP's Stacie Rumenap said. "In addition to being fertile ground for sharing confidential information, P2P networks are saturated with child pornography that is also notoriously difficult to track. We thank the FTC for their diligent work in patrolling P2P networks to make sure that illegal activity of any kind is not allowed to freely take place over these networks," Rumenap concluded.

In November 2009, SCP drafted the white paper, "Peer-to-Peer File Sharing: Pandora's Box of Child Porn?" that recognizes that while P2P technology has many useful and legal purposes, statistics indicate such networks create fertile ground for swapping pornographic material of minors.