By Naomi Tajitsu
Kim Dotcom, the founder of the shuttered file-sharing site that housed everything from family photos to blockbuster films, on Thursday announced a new online storage service called Mega that will give users direct control – and responsibility – over their files.
Mega will launch in January 2013, just before the internet entrepreneur is scheduled to face an extradition hearing to the United States where he and other Megaupload operators face charges of online piracy, fraud and money laundering.
In a snub to U.S. prosecutors, the site will not utilize U.S.-based hosting companies as partners in order to avoid being shut down by U.S. authorities.
The U.S. government alleges that Megaupload, once one of the world’s most popular websites, was directly responsible for illegally uploaded content on the site and that it netted $175 million from unlawful activities.
“The new Mega will not be threatened by U.S. prosecutors,” Dotcom told Reuters in an interview, adding that he was confident Mega would avoid violating U.S. law.
“The new Mega avoids any dealings with U.S. hosters, U.S. domains and U.S. backbone providers and has changed the way it operates to avoid another takedown,” he said.
Mega is the follow-up to Megaupload, which was shut down in January this year when New Zealand police helicopters swooped into the flamboyant Dotcom’s mansion outside Auckland to seize computers and other evidence at the request of U.S. authorities.
Users of the new cloud-based service will be able to upload, store and share photos, text files, music and films, encrypt those files and grant access using unique decryption keys.
“You hold the keys to what you store in the cloud, not us,” a statement on the Mega website said.
While the new site will operate faster and boast a bigger storage capacity, the encryption technology marks a major change from Megaupload as Mega operators will not have access to files and will therefore be immune to content liability.
Ensuring that files are not pirated will be the job of content owners, a major change from Megaupload, which the U.S. film industry says was directly responsible for taking down illegally uploaded content.
“Content owners can still remove infringing material and they will even get direct delete access if they agree not to make us responsible for actions of users,” Dotcom said.
Dotcom’s announcement comes just weeks after a U.S. federal judge ruled that Washington’s criminal case against Megaupload will go forward for now.
Dotcom, a German national who holds New Zealand residency, faces an extradition hearing in March even though a New Zealand court ruled that the January raid and seizure were unlawful, while the nation’s spy agency was found to have illegally spied on Dotcom.
Thursday’s announcement was delayed for about one hour after the website was overloaded by users. According to Dotcom, much of the traffic was driven by U.S. authorities.
“FBI agents pressing reload…We see their IP addresses,” he said on his Twitter feed.
(Reporting by Naomi Tajitsu; Editing by Matt Driskill)
MEGACOMEBACK: Screencap from Kim Dotcom’s preview video for a resurgent Megaupload.
A teaser page forKim Dotcom’s new file sharing site almost stalled at its launch, but anticipation is high to see the site he’s created nearly a year after the highly publicised FBI raids which saw his assets frozen and file sharing behemoth Megaupload shut down.
In a move bound to draw the ire of prosecutors in the United States, Dotcom is launching his new site – Megabox – and today unveiled a splash page called Mega.
But the launch was not without its teething problems after a surge of activity overloaded the site’s servers.
The new site was expected sometime this year, but a tweet from Kim Dotcom at 12.03 this afternoon began an hour countdown.
“Countdown on Kim.com ends in 1 hour. Expect our new Mega domain and a splash page with information.”
At 1.03 however overloading had caused the Kim.com site to shut down. Dotcom tweeted FBI agents were among those trying to get on his site at its launch.
“All FBI agents pressing reload hahaha….. We see their IP addresses. LOL!!!, ” he said.
Today’s launch will give Dotcom a good indication of his new venture’s popularity when it finally does go live.
“This must be the biggest launch of a splash page ever. It’s not even the final site yet. Just a new domain & info “ Dotcom tweeted.
On the new Megabox site, it is understood uploaded files will be encrypted using the advanced encryption standard (AES).
Files fed through AES can only be viewed by using a supplied key. Users could then see the files content, but outside parties and more importantly, the file’s host, couldn’t.
Dotcom remains on bail at his $30 million Coatesville mansion since his arrest back in January. While his assets remain frozen, there are no restrictions to him starting any new file sharing sites or web ventures.
He has always maintained he was not aware of any illegal file sharing on his Megaupload site. The level of encryption used on Mega however, would ensure he could not be aware of any illegal activity on the new site.
Dotcom has said to media, the new encryption standard would mean the site could not be shut down in the same way Megaupload was. Megabox would be protected by virtue of ignorance, with no possible idea of what’s on its servers.
Online pundits however are predicting AES could make individual users more accountable. If a user shares licensed content online it would be far more easily tracked through the encryption standard.
Before US prosecutors shut down Mega Upload in January, it held dominance as one of the most popular online sites world wide since Dotcom started it in 2005.
Racketeering charges have now been filed against Dotcom and six of his Megaupload associates, in relation to what US authorities say was massive copyright piracy by users of his site. They are now trying to extradite him and three others from New Zealand.
Prosecutors say Dotcom pocketed tens of millions of dollars while movie makers and songwriters lost some US$500 million in copyright revenue.
The case however, has unravelled somewhat since revelations the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) was spying on Dotcom illegally.
Questions also remain over the length of time Dotcom was being spied on, with the GCSB maintaining surveillance began in December last year but it is understood internet traffic out of Dotcom’s Coatesville mansion was being monitored as early as November.
An independent lawyer is now assisting the High Court in deciding what evidence of the spying is to be handed over to his Dotcom’s legal team.
Dotcom faces an extradition hearing in March.
- Flamboyant Megaupload founder unveils file-sharing sequel (todayonline.com)
- Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom debuts file-sharing sequel called Mega (business.financialpost.com)
- Flamboyant Megaupload founder unveils file-sharing sequel (rpmgr.com)
- Uh-oh! Kim Dotcom is back with a brand new Megaupload site (go.theregister.com)
- Megaupload Founder Kim Dotcom To Launch File-Sharing Site Mega In January (ibtimes.com)
- Kim Dotcom announces Mega, successor to Megaupload (guardian.co.uk)
- ‘The new Mega will not be threatened by U.S. prosecutors”: Kim Dotcom set to launch Megaupload replacement (news.nationalpost.com)
- New Online Storage Service to Put Users in Charge (nytimes.com)
- Kim Dotcom starting up new file-sharing site (radionz.co.nz)
- Meet Mega, Kim Dotcom’s new and secure Megaupload sequel (theverge.com)