CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
H.R. 4098 is expected to be considered on the floor of the House on Tuesday, March 23, 2010, under suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage. The legislation was introduced by Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-NY) on November 17, 2009. The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform approved the bill on March 4, 2010, by voice vote.
H.R. 4098 would require federal agencies to develop and implement a plan within six months to ensure that computer systems, including those used by contractors, are secure from the use of certain file-sharing software. Affected software, known as peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing programs, are applications that allow users to download and directly share electronic files from other users. The legislation would not prohibit the use of all file-sharing programs but would require the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to develop a procedure for agencies to receive approval to use file-sharing programs. Finally, H.R. 4098 would require agencies to create plans to address security concerns for government computer networks.
Peer-to-peer file sharing software allows users to connect with each other to search and copy electronic files. The popularity of this software has grown since being made widely available in the late 1990s and early 2000s by programs like Napster, Kazaa and LimeWire. Currently, it is estimated that there are up to 20 million peer-to-peer file sharing users online at any point in time, most commonly sharing music and movies.
Not many people are aware of the privacy and security risks associated with open network peer-to-peer file sharing software. This bill is intended to reduce the risk that those kinds of documents are exposed on file sharing networks by prohibiting the use of open network peer-to-peer file sharing software on all federal computers, computer systems, and networks, including those of contractors working for the federal government.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that implementing H.R. 4098 would cost about $10 million over Fiscal Years 2011-2014.