This web site was copied prior to January 20, 2005. It is now a Federal record managed by the National Archives and Records Administration. External links, forms, and search boxes may not function within this collection. Learn more.   [hide]
Graphic of a blue block spacer
Graphic link to FBI Homepage
 
Graphic link to FBI Priorities
Graphic link to About Us
Graphic link to Press Room
Graphic link to Investigative Programs
Graphic link to Counterterrorism
Link to Intelligence Program
Graphic link to Most Wanted
Graphic link to Field Divisions
Graphic link to Reports and Publications
Graphic link to FBI History
Graphic link to For the Family
Graphic link to Freedom Of Iinformation Act Library / Requests
Graphic link to Employment
Graphic link to How Do I...?
Graphic link to Search

Graphic link to Homepage

 

Graphic link to Submit a Tip
Graphic link to Apply Today
Graphic link to Links
Graphic link to Contact Us
Graphic link to Site Map
Graphic link to Privacy Policy
Investigative Programs
Cyber Investigations
 

Cyber Education Letter

To Users of Peer-to-Peer Systems:

The FBI has undertaken a new initiative to educate and warn citizens about certain risks and dangers associated with the use of Peer-to-Peer systems on the Internet. While the FBI supports and encourages the development of new technologies, we also recognize that technology can be misused for illicit and, in some cases, criminal purposes. In an effort to help citizens learn how to protect themselves, this letter is being distributed and is posted on the FBI's web site.

Peer-to-Peer networks allow users connected to the Internet to link their computers with other computers around the world. These networks are established for the purpose of sharing files. Typically, users of Peer-to-Peer networks install free software on their computers which allows them (1) to find and download files located on another Peer-to-Peer user's hard drive, and (2) to share with those other users files located on their own computer. Unfortunately sometimes these information-sharing systems have been used to engage in illegal activity. Some of the most common crimes associated with Peer-to-Peer networks are the following:

Copyright Infringement: It is a violation of Federal law to distribute copyrighted music, movies, software, games, and other works without authorization. There are important national economic consequences associated with such theft. The FBI has asked industry associations and companies that are particularly concerned with intellectual property theft to report to the FBI -- for possible criminal investigation and prosecution -- anyone that they have reason to believe is violating Federal copyright law.

Child Exploitation and Obscenity: The receipt or distribution of child pornography and unlawful obscenity over the Internet also is a serious Federal crime. The FBI cautions parents and guardians that, because there is no age restriction for the use of Peer-to-Peer services, pornography of all types is easily accessible by the many young children whose parents mistakenly believe they are only accessing music or movies. In fact, children may be exposed to pornography -- and subsequently lured by sexual predators -- even though they were not searching for pornography, as some network users deliberately mislabel the names of files for this purpose.

Computer Hacking: Peer-to-Peer networks also have been abused by hackers. Because these systems potentially expose your computer and files to millions of other users on the network, they also expose your computer to worms and viruses. In fact, some worms have been specifically written to spread by popular Peer-to-Peer networks. Also, if Peer-to-Peer software is not properly configured, you may be unknowingly opening up the contents of your entire hard drive for others to see and download your private information.

The FBI urges you to learn about the risks and dangers of Peer-to-Peer networks, as well as the legal consequences of copyright infringement, illegal pornography, and computer hacking. For more information about the law, visit www.usdoj.gov/criminal. The FBI takes seriously its mission to enforce the laws against those who use the Internet to commit crime. To report cyber crime, please contact your local FBI Field Office, or file a complaint through the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.IC3.gov.

Operation "WebSnare"
Anti-Piracy Seal Information
Cyber Education Letter
File a Complaint through the Internet Fraud Complaint Center
Internet Crime Complaint Center
Online Child Pornography Program
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
New E-Scams & Warnings
Cyber Investigations Home