Is Kim Dotcom's new site Mega a triumph for privacy or piracy?
MegaUpload founder's cloud storage website gets US prosecutors in a 'tizzy'
FLAMBOYANT internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom has launched a new cloud storage and file-sharing website called Mega from his home in New Zealand as he battles efforts to extradite him to the US on web piracy charges.
The service has gone live exactly a year after his previous site, MegaUpload, was closed down by the US authorities amid allegations it was being used to illegally distribute copyright material across the web.
Dotcom says the new site is very different, because data will be encrypted and only the owner will be able to access it.
Mega offers anyone who joins 50 gigabytes of free data storage, but paying members will be given even more space. Users can store anything they want on the site, and Dotcom says that the password protection aspect means that he and Mega cannot be accused of facilitating piracy.
Indeed, Dotcom has even touted his venture as a triumph for internet privacy, as no-one apart from the password holder will know what is being stored on the site.
"His new startup Mega isn't just super-private file storage in the cloud," said Gizmodo. "It's a political statement about your privacy. Your data is yours and yours alone."
And it's about time. "There is something appealing about the privacy pitch," wrote Anthony Wing Kosner for Forbes. "With it becoming increasingly clear how Google and Facebook are mining user data — including emails, calendars, physical location and other personal information — the idea of having a place to store your data that cannot be Hoovered is seeming increasingly necessary — even if you have nothing to hide."
Demand for the new service was immediate. Within hours of the launch, Dotcom tweeted: "250,000 user registrations. Server capacity on maximum load. Should get better when initial frenzy is over. Wow!!!"
However, the launch has not gone down well with everyone. The arrival of mega.co.nz has "US prosecutors in a tizzy", reported CNet.
Some believe that Mega will still become a home for pirates on the internet and that the use of passwords is simply a clever ruse to allow Dotcom to avoid taking responsibility for what is stored on the site.
There are also questions about how he has been able to set up a new site while under investigation on piracy charges.
But the website Stuff.co.nz explained: "While Dotcom's arrest meant Megaupload was shut down and many of his assets frozen, it has not precluded him from renewing work on products which push the boundaries of file-sharing and content ownership rights."
The launch party was a typically extravagant affair, which recreated the police raid on his New Zealand home last year. Actors dressed as police abseiled down the walls of the mansion and a helicopter with FBI painted on it flew overhead.