FTC Closes LimeWire Privacy Probe Without Taking Action
Now the FTC has publicized the results of one investigation, that of peer-to-peer network, LimeWire. And the results are good news for the troubled company: The FTC closed its investigation without taking action.
The FTC said that one factor that led it to close the probe was that recent versions of LimeWire software incorporate mechanisms aimed at preventing the accidental sharing of personal documents. The agency added that it expects LimeWire "to continue to advise consumers to upgrade legacy versions of its software" and also "to participate in software industry efforts to inform consumers about how best to avoid the inadvertent sharing of sensitive documents."
While the FTC's move solves one of LimeWire's problems, the company still faces significant problems. Most pressing, a federal judge ruled recently that LimeWire is liable for inducing users to infringe on copyright.
The FTC's decision here makes sense. While people who use peer-to-peer networks can compromise others' privacy, so can those who use email, blogs, social networking sites and the like. In fact, any time an individual posts information online, the potential exists that someone's private data will be exposed.
The answer isn't to target the technology, but the companies and individuals who use particular platforms to broadcast private data. The FTC currently is considering complaints against Google, which arguably exposed some users' private contacts when it launched Buzz, and Facebook, which riled privacy advocates by launching "instant personalization" -- a program that tells Yelp, Microsoft Docs and Pandora the names of visitors who are signed in to Facebook at the time.
Those complaints certainly appear more valid than allegations that peer-to-peer companies violate people's privacy.