Kim Dotcom Announces Mega-Replacement For Megaupload

Kim Dotcom, founder of the infamous Megaupload file hosting service, has unveiled Mega, the successor to the website that landed him in trouble with the US authorities.

The new cloud file sharing and storage platform promises more control over the files, as well as improved security and reliability. Just like before, users will be able to upload, store and share photos, documents, music and video, but this time the platform will employ encryption, which Dotcom says will make the Mega operators immune to any copyright liability.

The website is expected to launch on 20 January 2013, exactly a year after Dotcom was first arrested.

Guess who’s back

Dotcom’s previous project, Megaupload was closed down by the US Department of Justice in January as part of a multinational co-operative move against online copyright infringement. The founder and three employees were taken into custody in New Zealand by police, on charges of online piracy, fraud and money laundering, but have since been released on bail.

The US authorities want him extradited, and if convicted in the US, Dotcom faces a jail sentence of up to 20 years. Prosecutors allege that the website, once one of the most popular online destinations in the world, earned its owners around $175 million (£111m), and enabled sharing of copyright material.

The Mega launch will come weeks before Dotcom’s much-delayed extradition hearing, scheduled for 25 March.

The new site will not employ North American hosting companies – in an effort to avoid the scrutiny of US authorities. Dotcom told Reuters that even though Mega “has changed the way it operates to avoid another takedown”, he was confident it would not violate US laws.

The new platform will be faster, offer more capacity than Megaupload and encrypt all content using the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES).

The only way to access the files will be through unique decryption keys, which will be held by users, and not Mega employees. As a result, the responsibility for content will rest with the users alone.

“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,” said Dotcom.

Soon after the announcement, the new domain was overloaded with visitors and still experiences performance issues. Dotcom tweeted that a large number of FBI agents were among those trying to get to his website.

Weeks earlier, a US federal judge had ruled that the case against Dotcom would go forward, even after the January raid was ruled illegal and New Zealand’s prime minister personally apologised to Megaupload founder.

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Max Smolaks

Max 'Beast from the East' Smolaks covers open source, public sector, startups and technology of the future at TechWeekEurope. If you find him looking lost on the streets of London, feed him coffee and sugar.

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