Texas works on P2P policy

It will likely explain when using file-sharing applications is illegal or allowed and no threat to state systems.

Fearing that state computer systems will be jeopardized, Texas state technology officials are planning to restrict the use of peer-to-peer file-sharing applications among agencies, departments, boards and commissions.

Gov. Rick Perry issued an executive order April 5 directing the state Department of Information Resources to devise a policy prohibiting the unauthorized or illegal use of such software programs and also permitting their use for government business and law enforcement purposes that won’t pose a risk to computer systems.

Peer-to-peer (P2P) software, such as Napster, Kazaa and Grokster, allows Internet users to search, download and share files -- usually music, videos, software and other types of media files -- directly from one another’s computers. As opposed to a traditional client-server model, P2P networks are composed of nodes that serve as clients and servers to other nodes on the network.

Perry’s executive order states that “without adequate protections and procedures in place, the use of peer-to-peer file-sharing software can result in the presence of viruses and malicious programs on state information management system computers and networks, and consume network resources, resulting in the creation of inefficiencies in the performance of those systems.”

Any statewide policy, however, would not apply to the legislative and judicial branches or to the state’s constitutional officers, although they could adopt it, the executive order states.

Other state governments have enacted similar P2P use policies.