Little chance of recovering Megaupload data
Megaupload customers have little chance of ever recovering access to personal files they uploaded to the cloud-based storage service despite an agreement by its hosting partners not to delete the data for the time being.
Tens of millions of people around the world have uploaded files to Megaupload, which include personal photos, home videos and software programmes as well as pirated material. As people often upload files to online storage sites to save space on their personal computers, much of the material is unlikely to be backed up.
Megaupload's bank accounts have been frozen since the arrest of founder Kim Dotcom on copyright and other related charges last month, meaning specialist hosting companies that house files for Megaupload cannot be paid. US prosecutors warned earlier this week that storage companies Carpathia and Cogent Communications could begin deleting data hosted in Virginia on Thursday.
The two companies today agreed to preserve the data for at least two weeks, according to Megaupload lawyer Ira Rothken.
But InternetNZ chief executive Vikram Kumar said Megaupload would probably need to be revived as a going concern for there to be much chance of innocent internet users recovering access to their files.
That was because it would be too hard for the third-party hosting companies to work out which users should be entitled to access what files.
It is not clear if US courts could do anything to safeguard data hosted on behalf of Megaupload in Holland and elsewhere outside the US from deletion, even though that too might be evidence in any prosecution.
The Pirate Party in Spain is leading an international effort to launch a class action lawsuit against the FBI on behalf of computer users who have lost access to files as a result of Megaupload's closure. Extradition papers are expected to be filed against Dotcom and three associates on February 22.
Kumar said US authorities had achieved most of their goals already, having shut down Megaupload and "sent a message" that has persuaded other online storage services to tighten up their anti-piracy policies. He forecast prosecutors would be keen to enter into a plea bargain if they felt there was any risk of losing their case, as the cost of failure would now be "so high".
Technology website Cnet reported that since the closure of Megaupload, "millions" more internet users had turned to alternative online storage sites, such as Filefactory, Depositfiles, Hotfile and 4Shared, suggesting Megaupload users were "simply migrating to similar sites". It said 4Shared was twice the size of Megaupload.
RapidShare, another online storage site, has conceded about 5 per cent of files stored by users on its computers may be pirated, but attempted to distance itself from Megaupload saying "conduct" was the key and it had stringent measures to discourage piracy.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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