Some years back, about seventy million people engaged in online file sharing. Based on a CBS News poll, seventy percent of users with ages ranging from 18 to 29 years viewed that file sharing was acceptable for some environments and 58 percent who followed the file sharing issue considered it acceptable in at least some conditions.
Surveys and statistics show that in 2006, thirty two million users, over 12 years old, had downloaded at least one movie from the Internet, 80 percent of whom went through the process over P2P exclusively. Forty percent of the population sampled felt that download of copyrighted movies is a very serious offense just like not paying for a DVD taken from a store.
In 2008, twenty percent of Europeans used file sharing networks to download music, while ten percent utilized paid-for digital music services like iTunes. In 2009, a poll survey found that seventy five percent of the English public who participated were aware of what was illegal and legal in relevance to file sharing, however the issue on who should shoulder the legal burden was a split between factions: forty nine percent believed that P2P companies should be held responsible while eighteen percent viewed individual file sharers should take the blame; eighteen percent chose not to answer or may have no knowledge at all about the issue of illegal file sharing on their networks.
Similar polls in other countries worldwide yield vast support from users of file sharing regardless of legality issues and the risks involved. A drastic increase in careless P2P file sharing of sensitive and personal information surfaced in 2009 at the beginning of the president’s administration when the helicopter Marine One’ blueprints were made available to the public via a P2P file sharing site through a breach in security. This can be detrimental to a nation’s security.
Potential security risks in file sharing have been examined by researchers including bundled spyware, the release of personal information and viruses downloaded from the network. Though open source programs do not carry bundled malware, some proprietary file sharing clients have been known to bundle such applications. Reliable open source file sharing packages provide integrated anti-virus scanning.
Researchers also discovered tons of documents consisting of sensitive patient data on popular peer-to-peer (P2P) networks, along with diagnosis codes, insurance details, physician names, and identifying information on more than twenty eight thousand individuals. Most of the documents consisted of sensitive patient treatment data, psychiatric evaluations communications and medical diagnoses.
With these alarming revelations, the government sprang into action by making users more aware of the potential risks P2P file sharing programs may bring through legislation such as the Informed P2P User Act – H.R. 1319. This act states that it is mandatory for users to be aware of the risks concomitant with peer-to-peer file sharing before buying software with the user’s informed consent prior to using such programs. Additionally, the act allows users, with the Federal Trade Commission enforcing regulations, to remove and block P2P file sharing software from their computers at any given time.