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2/2/2012
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Megaupload Hosting Provider Seeks Out Data Owners

No promises, but MegaRetrieval campaign tries to reunite legitimate Megaupload users with their data.

12 Epic Tech Fails of 2011
12 Epic Tech Fails of 2011
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
Calling all U.S. Megaupload users: Did you store legitimate data on the file-sharing site, only to lose access after the FBI seized the cyberlocker's servers, following a federal indictment charging the company's executives with copyright infringement and operating a criminal enterprise?

That's the question posed by MegaRetrieval, a website created by Carpathia Hosting, which is one of the two hosting providers--the other being Cogent Communications--from which Megaupload leased its U.S.-based servers.

Carpathia, which is working with the nonprofit digital rights advocacy group Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), created MegaRetrieval to help the EFF "assess the scope of the issue facing Megaupload users who are at risk of losing their data," as well as to "help drive awareness that Megaupload customers can seek legal assistance to retrieve their data," according to a joint statement released by the organizations.

"EFF is troubled that so many lawful users of Megaupload.com had their property taken from them without warning and that the government has taken no steps to help them. We think it's important that these users have their voices heard as this process moves forward," said EFF staff attorney Julie Samuels, in a statement.

Accordingly, the EFF said it plans to review "the factual situations shared by users and, if possible, try to resolve their issues."

Carpathia, meanwhile, clarified that it doesn't have the power to reunite Megaupload users with their files, saying it doesn't have--and has never had--access to any Megaupload data. Even so, Brian Winter, the company's chief marketing officer, said in a statement that "we support the EFF and their efforts to help those users that stored legitimate, non-infringing files with Megaupload retrieve their data."

[ For more reactions to the Megaupload case, including an attempt to launch an alternative file-sharing site, read Megaupload Users Anonymous Calls Anonyupload A Scam. ]

Echoing the data-deletion reprieve that Megaupload's U.S. attorney, Ira Rothken, last week negotiated with Carpathia and Cogent, Winter furthermore said that Carpathia has "no immediate plans to reprovision some or all of the Megaupload servers," meaning that the data stored on them remains safe for now. He also promised that the company would provide at least seven days' warning before it wiped any Megaupload data from its servers.

In other Megaupload news, company founder and chief Kim Dotcom (aka Kim Schmitz) remains remanded in custody until February 22 in New Zealand. A judge in Auckland last week rejected Dotcom's request for bail, on the grounds that Dotcom was a potential flight risk with possible criminal ties, owing to the sawed-off shotgun found in the "panic room" in which he hid when New Zealand police raided his house. But a spokeswoman for Dotcom's lawyer, Paul Davison, told AFP Thursday that the Auckland High Court was scheduled to hear a bail appeal from Dotcom on Friday.

Dotcom's arrest was triggered by the Department of Justice indictment, which accused him and six other Megaupload executives of having created a criminal enterprise built on copyright infringement, which allowed the company to amass $175 million while robbing copyright holders of $500 million in potential profits. Dotcom, however, has denied all of the charges leveled against him, and a lawyer for Megaupload said the company, which is based in Hong Kong, would "vigorously" defend itself. Meanwhile, legal observers have questioned the foundations of the Justice Department's case, saying that allegations of copyright infringement have historically been treated as civil--not criminal--cases.

The right forensic tools in the right hands are just a start. The new Digital Detectives issue of Dark Reading shows you how to better apply the lessons they teach. (Free registration required.)

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