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Peer-to-peer: is deviant behavior the norm on P2P file-sharing networks?

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>02/2006
<mark>Journal</mark>IEEE Distributed Systems Online
Issue number2
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


P2P file-sharing networks such as Kazaa, eDonkey, and Limewire boast millions of users. Because of scalability concerns and legal issues, such networks are moving away from the semicentralized approach that Napster typifies toward more scalable and anonymous decentralized P2P architectures. Because they lack any central authority, these networks provide a new, interesting context for the expression of human social behavior. However, the activities of P2P community members are sometimes at odds with what real-world authorities consider acceptable. One example is the use of P2P networks to distribute illegal pornography. To gauge the form and extent of P2P-based sharing of illegal pornography, we analyzed pornography-related resource-discovery traffic in the Gnutella P2P network. We found that a small yet significant proportion of Gnutella activity relates to illegal pornography: for example, 1.6 percent of searches and 2.4 percent of responses are for this type of material. But does this imply that such activity is widespread in the file-sharing population? On the contrary, our results show that a small yet particularly active subcommunity of users searches for and distributes illegal pornography, but it isn't a behavioral norm.