back to article P2P snafu blows lid on secret Congress probes

A confidential memo from one of the most secretive panels in Congress was leaked on a peer-to-peer file-sharing network, publicly detailing sensitive probes involving more than 30 lawmakers and aides. The release of the report was jarring enough that Zoe Lofgren, chairman of the House ethics committee, interrupted a series of …


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  1. Eddy Ito

    Bravo!! Encore!!

    Finally!! A start toward an open and transparent government.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Now. . .

    Where can i find said memo? Or has it appears on Wikileaks yet?

    /BH because I dont need the feds busting down my door.

  3. Tom 35

    should that be...

    held hearings on whether federal laws were needed to protect federal employees from being morons.

  4. jake Silver badge


    "Legislators have grown so worried about inadvertent leaking of documents over P2P networks they've considered draconian bills that could render entire web browsers and operating systems illegal."

    This is our new open and transparent government at work?

    Same ol' same ol', only more draconian, then? Wonderful.

    Not that I expected any different. At least the neo-nazis are (mostly) out of power.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Amen, more politicians should install Limewire!

  6. Pablo
    Paris Hilton


    I never understood how you could "inadvertently" share a file on P2P. With any of the file sharing software I've ever used, you have to specifically designate one or more folders to share, plus it may create a default one, something like "C:\Program Files\µZebra Wire\Shared". In either case, you'd have to put something in one of those folders intentionally, it doesn't just randomly grab files off the hard drive.

  7. K T


    You're right, but if he had set his shared folder to an entire drive or his home folder (let's say D:\ or /home/<user>), the file would get inadvertedly shared. This only means he's not automatically a snitch, however, he's still a moron.

    But, as has been pointed out, transparency in government is important and one can only applaud this guy's idiocy!

  8. Flakey


    Totally agree. If this file was on a torrent site, the torrent must first be created, nothing "inadvertant" about that, then upped to the tracker. They make it sound like some bot is randomly harvesting hard drives...planks

  9. JimC


    > I never understood how you could "inadvertently" share a file on P2P

    You've never worked in IT Support then Pablo?

  10. James O'Shea


    That's 'cause you have sense and actually RTFM. Certain other people 'keep things simple' and share the desktop or the entire home directory or even the entire bleeding drive. No, I'm not joking. I've seen it happen.

  11. dave lawless

    just two more strikes left

    And the US govt. will have no internet!

  12. Richard Boyce

    Who allowed the home worker to have this?

    It could be that the P2P software was merely used as a scapegoat by the worker who was traced or that this is a convenient cover excuse while they investigate the security breach.

    Secret documents should never be stored on home machines. Whoever allowed that should be fired.

  13. Sooty


    it's quite easy, some complete fools actually set their my documents folder as the destination for downloaded files, automatically sharing everything in it.

  14. Cliff

    @Pablo - Inadvertent

    How do you share a file inadvertently? Simples! Just think like a user...

    "I get my music from limewire. I like to take it with me on my phone. I have an autosync program to make it simple to keep up-to-date. My phone can also act as a storage device, and sometimes I save email attachments to it". Or any of another hundred or so real-world scenarios you see every day from less technical users.

  15. bexley

    kazaa probably

    he probably had his my documents folder shared in kazaa, saved email attachment to the default location and voila.

    only an idiot would use kazaa anyway. and these are the people the are taking our civil liberties away from us in the name of security. its about time we had revolution and got this upper class bunch of numpties out of power, they clearly cannot be trusted,

  16. Remy Redert

    re: Inadvertent

    Having two incompetents for sisters, I can explain this problem easily. It seems a lot of the morons will, when asked for a folder to index for shared files, blithely indicate that it can go ahead and share the (my) documents folder. All of it.

    Cue downloading confidential information to your computer (To the (my) documents folder, ofcourse) and the subsequent disaster recovery afterwards when their confidential information is suddenly available to everyone.

  17. Mark Allen


    @Pablo - some of the sharing software out there is pretty lame. I have no idea where the kids find it from. But there are dozens of different flavours of program. And I've seen some which default to sharing everything in the My Documents folder. Some even have specific tick boxes to add in sharing for .doc file types. (why?)

    Plenty of companies and hackers have taken open source P2P code and repackaged it for their own needs. Most efficient way of passing viruses around as the idiot targets download without a care.

    Or we have an idiot who has shared his My Music folder, but then manages to copy documents into there as well. (Seriously - you will be amazed at the lack of knowledge of a file system that some users have. Not always their fault as there is no decent IT Training)

    Combine idiot users with idiot software and this is the outcome. It is nothing to do with OS or Web Browser versions.

    (I work as an IT Engineer visiting people's homes.... scary what is often found...)

  18. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Passing the buck

    "Legislators have grown so worried about inadvertent leaking of documents over P2P networks they've considered draconian bills that could render entire web browsers and operating systems illegal".

    Such people would probably like to close down newspapers, radio and TV as well in case any of those got their grubby mitts on information they'd hoped to keep secret. But, hey, "Land of the Free" :-)

    If one wants to keep data secret you've got to keep it secret. Draconian measures on those who want to break that secrecy are perhaps fair enough ( though there's always the 'public interest' and 'for the greater good' defences ), but otherwise it sails close to the wind as collective punishment for their failures.

    As to "inadvertent leaking", that's just spin for top-down failures in keeping secrecy. The people ultimately responsible ducking their responsibility, passing the blame. That's well evidenced in the McKinnon case.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    P2P leaks?

    Done on purpose to alert the politicians??? I wonder about all these "P2P leaks" sometimes

  20. raving angry loony

    @Pablo - shhhhh!

    Shut yer trap. You're going to remove any excuse they have for banning any operating system not backed by a rich company that donates a lot to their campaigns.

  21. Adrian Crooks

    Just don't allow it

    They should just not allow work to be stored on private computers instead of considering protecting people who accidentally share the information. Yes, I can see the sharing as being accidental since this does not seem to be some huge conspiracy worthy of distribution to the world. The idiot probably dragged and dropped it by accident or shared their MyDocuments folder...

    Sucks about the investigation though. I hope if anyone is actually innocent that they don't get unduly dragged through the mud.

  22. Steven Knox
    Thumb Up


    P2P does have other, more beneficial uses than copyright infringement!

  23. KaD

    Now I Understand...

    I knew P2P systems were good, now I know why they are great! I think we could use more of these "leaks". Help keep the governments honest.

    Score: P2P 1 - U.S. Gov 0

  24. tuna 1

    A Politico's Defense

    I put a non-DRM'ed disk in the reader and TOR copied the files, and then uTorrent shot it through the 'tubes to TPB, releasing it to all my Limewire contacts. These nefarious softwares and unfiltered pipes allowed this to happen. If only there were some more protections in place, my esteemed colleagues could have proved their innocence(wink, wink)... Let's make some new laws!

    On to more important matters, who's turn is it to buy lunch today? Verizon? Goldman? Exxon hasn't bought in awhile...

  25. skeptical i

    Crying shame that these dopes have (or had) employment ...

    ... while better-qualified people are slumming in whatever scut work will pay bills until the economy improves.

  26. Wile E. Veteran


    Only 30? Congress has 535 members plus innumerable aides.

  27. Crazy Operations Guy

    Not good for justice

    Unlike what the other were saying, this IS NOT good for the people, the files leaked were on-going investigations, meaning that they do not have the necessary evidence to prosecute any of these people. And now the people implicated in this will just hide their activities.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Captain Obvious

    How about people too stupid to use their computer are banned from Government? We don't need laws, we need workshops. These guys running our Government and locking us down at the Airport taking out 3.5oz's of Shampoo are complete TOOLS.

  29. Dennis Healey


    Lets all blame the end user - he/she lacks knowledge.

    Those with the knowledge (the system administrators build their systems so that contractors and employees can download to removable disks and USB devices. The reason you would want to do this? - so you can remove data from the site ie create a security breach.

  30. This post has been deleted by its author

  31. Anonymous Coward

    Another example of incompetant IT depts!

    So tell me, why is a govenrment PC user allowed to install personal software? Why isn't the machine locked down more tightly? Crikey where I am, a bank, we can't even install software updates for software we maintain, without submitting a request to a seperate software support team!

    This was a laptop, in use at a US government dept, not some run-of-the-mill company!

  32. Paul 4

    RE:Another example of incompetant IT depts!

    No... Its a home PC. Its because in the US they see nothing wrong with taking work home and using your own computor to do things. Its not an IT thing, its a work culture thing. The long hours only loosers lunch attitude.

    @: skeptical i. What? 1) You don't know what the job was and 2) you don't know how low it was. These guys could have been highly qualified lawyers doing basic legal admin to pay the bills. Just because someone dosen't know PCs dosen't meen they are low skilled. Lots of people round here would have a much better life if they just pulled the stick out of there ass and realised that.

  33. TeeCee Gold badge

    @Paul 4

    I guess we're talking about the sort of people who are so incompetant that they can't even spell "computer" here.......oh.......hang on.......EPIC FAIL!

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    It could be win7

    It is not just P2P, go into homegroup on win7, tick the docs file (everything else is set by default to share) and then go looking at it from a linux machine. If you input the password (and we all know how easy they are to get hold of on the majority of British wireless networks) You get access to every file. I was able to copy and rename system files in Windows FFS.

    Blame p2p now. Once Win7 and home groups become the norm, it will get a whole lot more common.

    AC because our crappy government is watching.

  35. Inachu

    this will cost money.

    I truly think that USA govt should not run any LINUX,APPLE,Microsoft OS.

    The USA govt should run its own custom OS that is not compatible with any retail copy OS and ownership of this custom OS should only be in GOVT buildings and not in homes.

    If they did this then I am sure security will be improved vastly.

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