Rick at See What You Share has previously warned us that unwary users of peer to peer (P2P) file sharing software may well be making the contents of their entire C-Drives available for downloading by other users of the software. He has also demonstrated that the pictures of their children that people maintain on their C-Drives may well end up being downloaded to a computer on which there are hundreds of child pornography files.
Rick has now done a Nine-Minute Experiment, the results of which should send shivers down your spine. In short, he created a folder that contained innocuous documents, but which included titles such as:
OIF Iraqi Freedom Deployment Schedule NOT PUBLIC!
Mom & Dad’s Credit Card Info.
Kids – Playday @ School
Take a look at how many people downloaded those files from Rick’s computer in a period of nine minutes! Furthermore, depending on how people have their P2P software configured, these files could be available for the picking every time the user boots up the computer.
It’s downright frightening.
As I noted here, the software producers/licensors could go a long way to minimizing this problem by changing the software defaults to permit the sharing of only music files (as that’s why most people download P2P) and to prominently warn users that changing the default could expose the entire contents of their C-Drives to anyone who has the same P2P software.
So why don’t software producers take these measures? I think it’s fair to assume that such programming changes would be a snap.
In my personal opinion, P2P software producers, many of whom currently find themselves embroiled in copyright infringement actions relating to music file sharing, currently can argue that they are not inducing copyright infringement because their software permits the sharing of all sorts of files which do not in any way implicate the copyright laws. And, as such, they cannot be blamed if users choose to share copyrighted music files with their proiducts.
Indeed, if the producers were to adjust the defaults to permit the sharing of only music files, their “we-know-nothing” argument against the inducement of copyright infringement loses much of its force.
On the other hand, the software producers, by failing to change the defaults and by not prominently warning users of the consequences of the using the default settings, could end up being defendants in tort actions by users for any number of the litany of potential horribles that one can envision based on the results of Rick’s Nine-Minute Experiment.
Finally, the national security implications of the Nine-Minute Experiment are beyond frightening and must be addressed.