University of Dayton: file sharing is unethical and dangerous

That’s according to Barbara Belle of the University of Dayton (Office of Computing Ethics). News editor Lauren Williams writes of Belle’s presentation:

The power point presentation focuses on the facts that file sharing is unethical, risky and illegal.

If it is a “fact” that “file-sharing is unethical”, then there’s no need to discuss our conscience. To close that discussion is presumptuous. Williams then reveals misinformation coming from Belle’s presentation:

The first-year presentation also focuses on the risks of file-sharing, noting Spyware and privacy violations on the network as two consequences.

Spyware and privacy violations are consequences of networks in general, not of file-sharing in particular. What exacerbates a spyware and privacy risk is a lack of software auditability and modifiability. If one wishes to share files (or network in a multitude of other ways) and erect the best possible defense against spyware and back-doors, then one installs and runs free software. Stigmatizing file-sharing in particular is alarmist and misleading. If privacy and spyware were really a concern of the university, then the university would encourage the use of free software, not discourage file-sharing.

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