|Received:||12/14/2004 12:57:50 PM|
|Agency:||Federal Trade Commission|
|Rule:||Notice Announcing Public Workshop and Requesting Public Comment and Participation|
|Docket ID:||Not yet available|
Comments:Peer-2-Peer (P2P) is an upcoming technology that offers substantial value to consumers, businesses and corporations. Just as any technology can be exploited for illicit purposes, so has P2P. It should be undisputed that the internet has empowered the consumer, budding artist, and small business with not only a voice, but also an opportunity of substantial exposure to the public. With video technology become available to the consumer, even the home user can create movies or other content that they wish to make available to the public. It still takes quite a bit of resources to host and distribute content, thus reducing the ability of the consumer to make available their products. The most critical time for exposure is the immediate time surrounding a new release. Popular content, such as movie trailers, software updates/patches, and video can cause a system to be overloaded by the number of connections attempting to download the content. The P2P network more effectively uses bandwidth and reduces the strain on the resources of a single entity. One of the most innovative P2P programs is called ‘Bit Torrent’. It does not involve the hosting of a file on any particular server and merely tracks what entity has what portions of a file. The program would allow consumers to share the portions they have while downloading portions from another person. This allows the underutilized uploading bandwidth of each person holding the file to be used to provide the content to others. Now instead of a single server uploading the content to 100 connections, for example, a particular entity can gain a portion of the content from dozens of uploaders, thus not only reducing overall server loads, but allowing them to obtain the content much faster. The problems that consumers have with P2P is the spyware laden with software. It is becoming a substantial problem for consumers in that their system resources from being bogged down. The legal reasoning that the spyware makers are using is that the installation of the software is agreeded upon by the consumer when they accept the ‘End License User Agreement’ (EULA) when installing some other product. They take advantage of the fact that the agreements become so overly complex that consumers are in the habit of agreeing without reading. The consumers have an expectation that it is obvious what they are installing. While the main software is prominent, the consumer has little idea what else is being installed and has no means of tracking it. Very prominent unethical companies such as Claria (previously Gator) will piggyback programs that will track user habits and invade the privacy of consumers under the premise that the user agreed to language buried in a EULA. It should be prominently listed exactly what programs are being installed in separate installations. It should be the responsibility of the companies to ensure that their programs may be completely removed by Consumer demand with no residual components remaining. While possibly beyond the scope of this conference, serious consideration should be made concerning investigating the proliferation of spyware and the costs associated with it as it is becoming a detrimental epidemic for consumers. P2P should be embraced by companies since the success of P2P and financial success of music sites (e.g. iTunes) has shown the viability of the medium. P2P has also shown a substantial advantage to consumers in terms of exposing their wares in the most efficient manner possible. The legitimate uses of P2P that are currently in play and the potential benefits demonstrate that it should be encouraged and supported. Every effort to prevent regulation P2P as a whole should be considered as it will stifle innovation. While spyware is a major problem, it is not limited to P2P networks in the least and has in fact been a problem well before P2P had become popular.