The new file hosting service is live, but will it become a pirate haven?
Exactly a year after his previous project, Megaupload, was closed down by the US authorities, Kim Dotcom has launched a new cloud file-hosting service called “Mega” – and a million people registered on the first day.
Mega is branded as “the privacy company”, and while it offers 50GB of free online storage to every user, its real selling point is the blanket encryption that Dotcom claims will keep the files safe from prying eyes – possibly including those of copyright holders.
The Mega website began accepting registrations on Sunday at 6:48 AM Auckland time – the exact time when the first helicopter carrying police touched down at Dotcom’s mansion a year ago. By Monday, the service had already added a million users. For comparison, Megaupload needed almost eight months to reach this number.
Hosting.co.uk has already announced a reseller agreement with Mega, the first company to do this in the UK.
King Kimble the First
The Mega launch event was held in the ‘Dotcom Mansion’ – a $25 million complex northwest of Auckland that Kim Dotcom bought when Megaupload was at its peak. The entrepreneur has embraced the image of a rebel, and the opening sequences featured a re-enactment of the January raid, along with some dubstep, fireworks and dancing.
“If it wasn’t for that iceberg, we wouldn’t have a great Titanic movie which makes me cry every time I see it. And if it wasn’t for the raid, we wouldn’t have Mega,” said Dotcom, as reported by The Telegraph.
Last year, Megaupload was closed as part of an international move against online copyright infringement. Dotcom and three of his employees were arrested on charges of online piracy, fraud and money laundering, but have since been released on bail.
Federal authorities claim Dotcom illegally earned millions through his service, while causing losses of at least $500 million to the US entertainment industry. Dotcom has denied all accusations of copyright infringement, and maintains he was simply providing a file hosting platform.
The new website offers the same service as Megaupload, but operates a different business model. Unlike Dotcom’s previous brainchild, it will not reward users when their files are downloaded. It will, however, offer 50GB of free storage, vastly more than that offered by competition such as Dropbox, Google Drive or Microsoft Skydrive.
Every file uploaded to the platform will be encrypted with Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), making sure that no agency can monitor the file exchange and rendering both users and Mega administrators immune to copyright claims, Dotcom says. Mega says that people can’t be held accountable for content that they cannot see.
According to Dotcom, the new service will also feature a simpler interface, faster backend and cross-account folder sharing. Mega itself will be hosted in data centres all over the world, except for US, where the company will have no presence.
It was originally planned to locate the website at the Gabonese Internet address which spells ‘me.ga’, which was acquired in advance. However, the web address was later reclaimed by the communications ministry of Gabon, after it called the entrepreneur “unscrupulous”.
Not everyone shares this view. “Mega represents the next leap forward in secure cloud storage,” commented Frederick Schiwek from Hosting.co.uk. “For the cost of a cab ride, users gain access to up to 500GB of secure storage space. Speed is a big selling point, too: Mega operates enough worldwide data centres to ensure rapid file transfers. Best of all, users have control over the encryption and decryption of their own data.”
“We know that our customers will gravitate towards a service that puts them in charge,” he added.
As for Dotcom’s other upcoming projects, free music service Megabox is due to launch in another six months, with Megakey following soon after. The entrepreneur has also revealed that he is currently writing a book.
Dotcom still waits for hearing on possible extradition to the US, which has been scheduled for 25 March.
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