House nixes Web sites

Gov't network cracks down on piracy

WASHINGTON — Taking a cue from the U.S. Senate, the House of Representatives has put up a firewall making it nearly impossible for politicos and staffers to unwittingly — or wittingly — download pirated material from peer-to-peer sites on the Internet.

Entertainment lobbyists love the Capitol Hill crackdown, since it proves their point that any major offensive against digital looting must include technology making it difficult for pirated material to be swapped in cyberspace.

In an Aug. 12 memo, House Information Resources notified all offices that the firewall would “better block malicious external systems and messages from entering the network.”

Earlier in the summer, the Senate sergeant of arms announced that lawmakers and staffers would be blocked outright from visiting such sites as Gnutella and Morpheus. The two sites have been targeted by the Motion Picture Assn. as being chief culprits in the file-swapping of illegal films.

Computer staffers on Capitol Hill are alarmed that downloaded material could spread viruses.

Today, Recording Industry Assn. of America prexy Hilary Rosen will discuss the perils of Internet piracy at a meeting of the Congressional Black Caucus. Napster, the popular file-swapping site, pushed the issue of digital piracy to the forefront before being shut down.

Napster’s demise hasn’t ended the problem, though, and Rosen said she will demonstrate for the caucus how easy it is to download pirated music from other sites.

Reps from the movie biz also are expected to appear on the panel.

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