Peer-to-peer networks allow electronic connections
between two users directly, without mediation through a central server.
Typically, peer-to-peer (sometimes known as P2P) connections are used
for file sharing, in both business and personal environments. Examples
of this type of Internet channel include Napster, Gnutella, Morpheus,
BearShare, and KaZaA.
Peer-to-peer connections are generally not anonymous, although people
who dont know each other can share files. Using file-sharing software,
a user can access a peer-to-peer network without going through a browser
such as Netscape Navigator or Microsofts Internet Explorer. When
search terms are typed in, the software searches other computers connected
to the network. When a match is found, the user can download the file
to a hard drive.
- Some peer-to-peer networks are established solely
for exchanging pornographic images and video. Unlike commercial
Web sites, which impose credit-card fees on users, the graphic content
on file-sharing networks is available free of charge. In addition, peer-to-peer
file transfers can bypass content filtering,
although the function itself can be blocked by certain filters.
- Children and teens who use peer-to-peer networks
to search within their boundaries can be inadvertently directed to pornographic
material. For example, on KaZaA, a popular P2P, the keywords Britney
Spears, Pokemon, and the Olsen twins can
yield sexually explicit content.