EPIC warns colleges against P-to-P monitoring

A Washington, D.C., privacy group is taking aim at the music industry's efforts to enlist schools in monitoring students' peer-to-peer (P-to-P) file trading activities, sending out a letter to college and university presidents this week calling the surveillance "inappropriate" and "incompatible with intellectual freedom."

"Monitoring chills behavior, and can squelch creativity that must thrive in educational settings," the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) wrote in the letter Wednesday.

EPIC's missive comes in response to another letter sent out to more than 2,300 colleges and universities by the Recording Industry Association of America Inc. (RIAA) and other industry groups last month, asking the schools to help monitor whether students are committing copyright infringement through P-to-P file trading over their networks.

The RIAA has recently heightened its efforts to crack down on P-to-P piracy, given the rapid decrease in record sales over the last year, which has been pinned on copyright infringement through P-to-P trading.

But despite the music industry's concerns, EPIC warns against shifting the burden of content protection to academic institutions which already have scarce resources and staff to cope with traditional network issues. Furthermore, the group opined that universities should not "adopt a confrontational role with respect to these technologies" because it could lead to an escalating network "arms race" that could potentially harm the network's overall performance.

While the group acknowledged that network monitoring for bandwidth management is appropriate, it added that "the monitoring of individuals' activities does not comport with higher educational values."

However, RIAA President Cary Sherman responded saying,"I don't think anyone needs to lecture universities about academic freedom and respecting the First Amendment or privacy rights of their students."

The music industry has also pointed out that its efforts to raise attention to the problem of P-to-P piracy on campuses has garnered support from six education associations, including the American Association of State Colleges and Universities and the American Council on Education.

But in a letter the educational groups sent to universities addressing the matter, they labelled the problem "an exceptionally complex topic," adding that "the policies to address peer-to-peer file sharing are likely to have implications for such basic campus values as personal privacy, free speech, and academic freedom."

EPIC's letter is just the latest lob in what has become a prolonged debate over the effects of P-to-P file trading. While content owners continue to joust with the digital piracy that sometimes accompanies P-to-P trading, groups like EPIC caution that the swapping method also has legitimate uses.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Scarlet Pruitt

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Bang and Olufsen Beosound Stage - Dolby Atmos Soundbar

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

ASUS ROG, ACRONYM partner for Special Edition Zephyrus G14

Learn more >

Nakamichi Delta 100 3-Way Hi Fi Speaker System

Learn more >

Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean 9000 Toothbrush

Learn more >

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit for Nintendo Switch

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Teac 7 inch Swivel Screen Portable DVD Player

Learn more >

SunnyBunny Snowflakes 20 LED Solar Powered Fairy String

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers


This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang


It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries


As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr


The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?