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The File Sharing Threat to the Nation's Health
By Eric de Fontenay (Founder & Publisher)
(more articles from this author)
2003-05-29
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We've all heard how file sharing can be bad for the music industry's health, could it actually jeopardize the nation's health system? This was the astounding conclusion from a report issued by the Palisade Systems and the HIPAA Academy on implementation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). The report warns that, at the least, these applications "allow employees to communicate and share files covertly with outside parties...leading to an unintentional breach of HIPAA's access requirements," and at worst, would expose health care organizations systems to "security threats targeted at these applications like viruses, worms, and spyware."

But this is simply collateral damage in a struggle between the entertainment industry and consumers. Take the venerable Yankee Groups' astonishing finding that teens that haven't yet jumped on the file sharing bandwagon are not actually law abiding/fearing citizens but just lack a good high-speed modem. Who would have guessed?

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And for those counting on technology to save the day, you'll have to wait another day as market research firm In-Stat/MDR reports that the entertainment and content industry have spent much of 2003 (as they did in 2002, 2001,...) arriving at "little tangible progress in the deployment of viable DRM solutions." Worst, the report finds that "much of the past year has been marked by continuing disagreements between the two industries, primarily based on different strategies for combating content piracy." And while cooperation between both industries has improved dramatically since the days of SDMI, the research firm anticipates that ""most of these services will be virtually ignored by consumers who are used to accessing and downloading their digital content for free."

But many swear that they see the light at the end of the tunnel in the form of Apple's iTunes Music Store. I haven't seen so much excitement and optimism since the pre-Naspter days as illustrated by the "me too" strategy being rolled out by every other major player such as Amazon, RealNetworks and even Microsoft. But even Apple has been caught in the file sharing trap. The latest update of the iTunes software removes Rendezvous music-sharing feature. While Rendezvous was meant allow close friends & family share streaming versions of their playlists, outside programmers expanded the feature by allowing wider sharing over the Internet. The question remains whether Apple's music venture will be a success worth replicating or simply another mirage.


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