LimeWire Finally Gets Good News from the FTC

By Tracey E. Schelmetic August 27, 2010

It’s about time peer-to-peer file sharing company LimeWire got some good news from someone for a change. The company learned this week that the Federal Trade Commission will drop its investigation of the file sharing network. Regulators had been pursuing an investigation into allegations that LimeWire’s service lacked sufficient security and put users’ personal information, such as banking information and tax returns, at risk for identify theft.

The FTC stated that after concluding its initial investigation of users unknowingly sharing files they didn’t intend to share while using the LimeWire client, "We have determined not to recommend any further action by the Commission at this time.” However, the FTC did have a stern warning for LimeWire and other peer-to-peer file sharing companies. “Consumers should not have to worry that one small mistake in configuring a software program such as LimeWire might expose their tax returns, credit reports, and college loan applications to millions of people." The agency stated that the providers of file sharing software must "act more responsibly and provide safeguards against inadvertent sharing."

The FTC’s problem with LimeWire stemmed from the fact that security patches to prevent the sharing of personal information were complex and confusing to less computer-literate users, and that many users didn’t realize there were newer – and more secure – versions of the LimeWire client available. “We remain concerned, however, about consumers who are still using insecure legacy versions and are therefore subject to a risk of inadvertent sharing of sensitive, personal information," stated the agency in an Aug. 19 memo. 

The FTC urged LimeWire to encourage users to update to more security-tight versions of the client as well as take steps to educate clients on how they can protect their personal information from identity thieves. “We expect LimeWire to continue to advise consumers to upgrade legacy versions of its software because of the potential safety benefits of doing so,” noted the memo.

LimeWire, in response, issued a press statement outlining its new security initiatives, and that the FTC’s decision was in response to the steps the company had already undertaken to protect users’ security.

Tracey Schelmetic is a contributing editor for TechZone360. To read more of Tracey's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Erin Harrison

TechZone360 Contributor

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