P2P You and Me


Law student launches site, outragedmoderates.org, that gives citizens direct peer-to-peer (P2P) access to all sorts of government documents that might otherwise be a pain to access. Wired.com writes it up:

The site, launched two weeks ago, has aggregated more than 600 government and court documents to make them available for download through the Kazaa, LimeWire and Soulseek P2P networks in the interest of making government more transparent and accountable.
The documents include such items as recent torture memos related to the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, a Senate Intelligence Committee report on what the government knew before it invaded Iraq and a document showing how the Bush administration suppressed information about the full cost of its Medicare plan until after Congress passed the plan. There is also a copy of a no-bid contract obtained by a Halliburton subsidiary for work in Iraq and congressional testimony from former employees of the subsidiary showing how their company engaged in wasteful and costly conduct in Iraq (such as abandoning an $85,000 Mercedes truck after its tires went flat).

Thad Anderson, a second-year student at St. John's School of Law in Queens, New York, said he was driven to launch the site by what he says is the current administration's disregard for fundamental democratic structures and its increasing practice of withholding information from the public. …
Anderson didn't intend to make a statement by using P2P networks, but his use of the networks to deliver the data counters the usual government and entertainment industry arguments that P2P networks have no value, apart from stealing copyright works, and therefore should be outlawed.

In this case, the P2P networks are promoting public knowledge and doing so in a way that makes it easy for people to obtain all related documents swiftly with a single mouseclick.

The practical obscurity that keeps us in the dark about most of what our government says and does fades in the light of the computer monitor, and it's a wonderful thing.