Pols warn pirates of peer-to-peer perils

Kazaa, Morpheus, iMesh among sites monitored

WASHINGTON — A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Capitol Hill have a message for college kids illegally downloading music on the Internet: Little brother is watching you.

It wasn’t a slip of the tongue either. The lawmakers turned the idea of an Orewellian “Big Brother” government on its head at a hearing Thursday, warning those who use music file-swapping Internet sites that they may be making their personal tax returns, medical records and entire personal email inboxes available for misuse by private citizens.

“It seems like we may need a Big Brother to watch all of the little brothers who are watching you,” remarked Rep. Chris Shays (R-Conn.) during a hearing of the House Government Reform Committee.

A committee investigation of the privacy and security risks involved in peer-to-peer networks, including Kazaa, Morpheus, iMesh, BearShare, LimeWire and Grokster, found that users had inadvertently made personal information available to users and that the file-sharing software tested by the panel introduced spyware and adware, which collects personal information from for marketers, as well as viruses, worms and malicious computer files.

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