File-Sharing Trade Organization Launches P2P Patrol

Gretchen Gallen
ARLINGTON, Va.– On the heels of continued bad press and litigation over allegations that peer-to-peer networks help facilitate the distribution of child pornography, a file-sharing trade group launched P2P Patrol Monday to help educate file-sharers and make it easier to report child porn sightings to police.

Founded by the Distributed Computing Industry Association, an organization that represents companies involved in all aspects of P2P, P2P Patrol stands for Peer-To-Peer Parents And Teens React Online and counts among its members Grokster, Altnet and Sharman Networks, owner of Kazaa.

"This is focused on good citizen users, helping show them how to recognize, remove and report child pornography that is inadvertently encountered," DCIA Chief Executive Officer Marty Lafferty said.

The central aim of P2P Patrol is to provide parents and young adults with the tools needed to report on criminally obscene content when they encounter it on the Internet, lessening the responsibility for P2P networks and software makers to prevent the sharing of illegal files.

"It is important to note that this initiative is not a vigilante effort, and that seeking out criminally obscene content, even with the intention of helping to eliminate it, can itself expose one to violations of the law resulting in severe fines and imprisonment," DCIA states in its mission statement.

P2P Patrol also includes deterrence and enforcement programs for participating companies who register as members.

P2P Patrol will work in coordination with to help participants efficiently gather and submit required information in a standardized format.

According to the DCIA, cpHotline will qualify all leads that it receives and provide the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children with the specific information required for law enforcement to investigate and prosecute a case.

The DCIA has been extensively involved in rooting out child porn from P2P networks and the organization has created a web tool that generates a warning to computer users if they are searching for a term frequently associated with illicit material. The DCIA has also thrown its weight behind police investigations into the exchange of child porn over P2P networks, which has resulted in dozens of arrests so far.

The launch of P2P Patrol immediately follows testimony from an executive for Sharman Networks who told an Australian court last week that his company is unable to do anything to stop the sharing of illegal files over its network.

The company's chief technology officer testified that any efforts to track the exchange of child porn over the Kazaa network had never gotten past the conversational stage with Sharman CEO Nikki Hemming, a named defendant in the lawsuit filed by the Australian arm of the Recording Industry Association of America.