updated 07:20 pm EDT, Fri October 19, 2012
New service will provide end-to-end encryption, safety for Mega
MegaUpload founder Kim DotCom has made good on his promises to rebuild despite still being under legal attack by New Zealand and the USA. DotCom has announced that he is building Mega -- a new file sharing site implementing AES encryption for both the sender and receiver of the file, as well as integrating protections for copyright owners. DotCom claims the new storage methodology will make it "impossible for Mega to know, or be responsible for, its users' uploaded content -- a state of affairs engineered to create an ironclad 'safe harbor' from liability for Mega, and added piece of mind for the user."
"If servers are lost, if the government comes into a data center and rapes it, if someone hacks the server or steals it, it would give him nothing," DotCom told Wired in an interview. "Whatever is uploaded to the site, it is going to be remain closed and private without the key."
Copyright owners will still have the ability to remove infringing content from the Mega servers. According to the build plan, Mega will have rules that allow DMCA takedown notices to still be processed and acted on. Some entities like film studios will allegedly be allowed to directly remove pirated material themselves, assuming they accept the terms of service for the tool. Dotcom clarified that "if they want to use that tool, they'll have to accept, prior to getting access, that they're not going to sue us or hold us accountable for the actions of our users."
It is unclear how the movie studios or other authorized entities will know which files stored on the new service are in fact copyright violations before removing them with the special tool. According to US and UK law, guessing a password and accessing data protected by it is a crime, and not admissible in court unless the intrusion is backed by a court order. If the data is encrypted and unknown by Mega operators, the path to discovery by the studios is murky.
Cofounder and partner Mathias Ortmann claims that "even if one country decides to go completely berserk from a legal perspective and freeze all servers, for example -- which we don't expect, because we've fully complied with all the laws of the countries we place servers in -- or if a natural disaster happens, there's still another location where all the files are available. This way, it's impossible to be subjected to the kind of abuse that we've had in the U.S."
According to Dotcom's legal experts, the only way to prevent Mega's operation is to make encryption and privacy itself illegal. Dotcom explains: "according to the U.N. Charter for Human Rights, privacy is a basic human right. You have the right to protect your private information and communication against spying."
Julei Samuels, Electronic Frontier Foundation staff attorney says that "there are still some fundamental questions that need to be answered. At this point, it's not technology but the courts which need to address them." She believes that the new service won't address the issues raised by the initial raids and seizure of Megaupload property and stored data.
Dotcom was arrested at his Auckland, New Zealand mansion after the US orchestrated a raid based on criminal copyright violations and racketeering of the file storage locker that allegedly netted Dotcom and his cohorts $175 million. The legality of the evidence seized was questioned in court, when a judge ruled that the warrants didn't describe the offenses alleged and were illegal.
The raid and evidence search that started the shutdown of Megaupload took place on January 19, effectively closing Megaupload permanently. Dotcom and company co-founders were arrested on January 20, after a raid at a Carpathia server farm in Dulles, VA.