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US Gov't Wants Megaupload Users To Pay For Their Data 203

angry tapir writes "U.S. federal prosecutors are fine with Megaupload users recovering their data — as long as they pay for it. The government's position was explained in a court filing on Friday concerning one of the many interesting side issues that has emerged from the shutdown of Megaupload, formerly one of the most highly trafficked file-sharing sites. Prosecutors were responding to a motion filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation in late March on behalf of Kyle Goodwin, an Ohio-based sports reporter who used Megaupload legitimately for storing videos. The government argues that it only copied part of the Megaupload data and the physical servers were never seized. Megaupload's 1,103 servers — which hold upwards of 28 petabytes of data — are still held by Carpathia Hosting. Goodwin's options, prosecutors said, are either pay — or sue — Carpathia, or sue Megaupload."
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US Gov't Wants Megaupload Users To Pay For Their Data

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  • by Robert Zenz ( 1680268 ) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @05:29AM (#40306587) Homepage

    ...what idiot did upload their stuff to MegaUpload and did not keep an offline backup/original?

    I mean, I might be heavily influenced, given that I'm...uuhhh...obsessed with keeping *all* data (executing rm hurts...) and keeping it safe and sound...

  • by NetDanzr ( 619387 ) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @05:35AM (#40306607)
    1. Take people's data, hold it hostage
    2. Tell people to pay if they want to see the data ever again
    3. Profit!

    All this, of course, is contingent of the hostage taker having access to the data storage. Solution is simple: don't store your data in a country with such practices, or with a company with ties to said country. The Internet should finally recognize the US as damaged area and route around it.

  • by Calos ( 2281322 ) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @05:37AM (#40306613)

    That's one part of it. Single point of failure is always bad, and trusting someone else to manage it is worse.

    But then... It's fricken' MegaUpload. It's always seemed sketchy. Who trusts important stuff to them?

  • by Shivetya ( 243324 ) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @05:47AM (#40306663) Homepage Journal

    the 99% can take a hike.

    Get your rights trampled while they pursue someone or something, well too bad. Its called collateral damage and the little people simply have no say.

    As the saying goes, "A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have"

    It also goes without saying a government big enough to give you everything want could care less what you want or what it takes from you.

  • by ccguy ( 1116865 ) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @05:55AM (#40306695) Homepage

    But then... It's fricken' MegaUpload. It's always seemed sketchy. Who trusts important stuff to them?

    People who don't know better. This doesn't make them idiots, they just make them ignorant in a specific field.

    The same thing could be said about many, many people that are quite knowledgeable in IT yet happened to deposit their money in the wrong bank. And well, they lost a lot of money, not just some digital picture or whatever.

    I think before criticizing the victims here we should give it some thought: Do we have *all our own assets* (physical and otherwise) in the right place? Maybe we have our health insurance in the megaupload equivalent of insurance and we don't know about it? Or our funds?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @06:15AM (#40306775)

    This is but the 2.0 "cloud" variant of classic ransomware [].

    Fuck the US MAFIAA!

  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @06:18AM (#40306789) Homepage

    What clueless moron has only TWO backups?

    Their need to go to Megaupload to retrieve should be the last case. Oh crap, my offline is dead, oh double crap the backups of the offline is dead, Time to grab the files from online....

    Oh crap....

    Now it's the data owners fault for using shitty backup medium. Hard drives are unreliable at best. If your data has any real value, you BUY a backup medium with a proven track record of robust and low failure rates....

    That is why all my data backed up at home is on SDLT drive tapes. If it's good for Corperate america, it's good for me. Anything less is just playing around with toys.

  • Really? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Karmashock ( 2415832 ) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @06:21AM (#40306803)

    So if they just reopened megaupload with all the old data still on it the feds would just let that happen right?

    Because if so, then yes... megaupload should just do that. But that seems more then unlikely. This is another game the feds like to play. They put down whatever you want, look you in the eye, and say "go ahead - take it!" []

    I hate the federal government sometimes. This sort of dickish behavior should be reserved for pissing off dictators or various powers that deserve a good scare. But against the cyberlockers?...

    Meh... we need some sort of digital Switzerland. Possibly that's just going to have to be the P2P world... no way around it.

  • by chrb ( 1083577 ) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @06:28AM (#40306833)

    According to the MPAA, U.S. government, etc. these digital files are the same as physical property, and under the Fifth Amendment "No person shall be... deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law". Note the wording - it doesn't state that the government must actually have seized the property in question (which the government argues they did not do) - it must merely have caused a person to be deprived of their property. By their own logic, through the actions of the government, Mr. Goodwin has been deprived of his property, and without his right to a jury trial.

    But the government argues that they aren't liable because they only copied certain servers, and a forensic expert could retrieve the original files with access to the servers and hard disks. This is like arguing that the government can seize your car from the garage and dismantle it into thousands of parts, but that they haven't deprived you of your property, because you are free to hire a mechanic (at great cost) to put it all back together again.

    On the other hand, suppose you leave some property in the safe of your lawyer, who is subsequently arrested for committing some serious crime. You have now been deprived of your property, but it still exists in the safe. In this case, the government would not have a liability to release a criminal in order to let him open his safe and retrieve your belongings. I think that the government might win this one - if they are willing to let Mr. Goodwin have access to the servers, which they say they are. The Fifth Amendment does not require that the government ensure that you have access to your property that you have left in the care of another person, it only requires them to not be the ones depriving you of it.

    The other big issue from the article is that the U.S. government plans to extradite Kim Dotcom and the employees of Megaupload (including web developers etc.) so that they can be charged with criminal copyright infringement in the U.S. Can you imagine what the outcry would be like if any other nation tried to extradite Americans working for a U.S. based file hosting company? What if British prosecutors decide to extradite the developers of {Dropbox,Google Drive,etc.} because some users were sharing episodes of Doctor Who? Most people support extraditions for serious offences like murder, but when it starts to be used for frivolous things like copyright infringement, that support is going to disappear.

  • by gnasher719 ( 869701 ) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @06:34AM (#40306859)

    1. Take people's data, hold it hostage
    2. Tell people to pay if they want to see the data ever again
    3. Profit!

    It's not quite like that. Megaupload paid Carpathia for hosting user's data. Carpathia doesn't care what data, they just supplied the storage and took money for it. Megaupload stopped paying Carpathia. So what is Carpathia going to do?

    I would think it would be completely legal for them to just re-use all their servers that Megaupload is paying for, with total destruction of all the user data. Probably a matter of contract and contract law: For how long would a hosting service be required to keep your data if you stop paying? And I don't think Carpathia has any legal obligations to Megaupload's customers. On the contrary, I doubt that Carpathia has any right to give anyone other than Megaupload access to those servers without some court order, even Megaupload customers who want to access that data.

  • by NetDanzr ( 619387 ) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @06:56AM (#40306939)
    This would be true, if Megaupload willfully stopped paying Carpathia. However, they expressed the willingness to continue paying them for the servers, if they had the funds available. These funds, however, were frozen by the US government, who is thus responsible for Carpathia not getting paid, and as such has taken over the duty to maintain the data integrity. It's actually nothing new - authorities in the US have been doing similar things with physical property for a while, via asset forfeiture; the only difference here is that it's digital property. And that can be much more easily routed outside the authorities' reach in the future.
  • by gnasher719 ( 869701 ) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @07:01AM (#40306957)

    This may be pointing out the obvious, but so what if someone does pay, and does legitimately retrieve their data. What's to stop the Government from prosecuting them next? After all, they get the "Criminal" with the evidence, and they had to pay to get it, (weakly) proving its their data.

    If its _your_ data, there is nothing the government could prosecute you for. If its _your_ illegal copies of copyrighted material, then I suggest it's a stupid idea to try and download any of that under the eyes of the government.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @07:20AM (#40307025)

    I would like to see what happens if Iran decided to extradite some U.S.A. citizen involved in Flame or Stuxnet, what would this look like?? Whats the difference? The money and power of U.S.A.?

  • Gangsters (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Wowsers ( 1151731 ) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @07:22AM (#40307039) Journal
    So the US steals legitimate users data, and now holding these people to ransom for money to get their data back. Sounds like a mafia gangster mob scheme, or is that what the American government has become, because that's what it looks like to non-US citizens. Land of the free!!!
  • Re:Or... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by rhook ( 943951 ) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @07:32AM (#40307091)

    The US is a Republic and not a Democracy.

  • by WrongSizeGlass ( 838941 ) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @07:57AM (#40307231)

    I would like to see what happens if Iran decided to extradite some U.S.A. citizen involved in Flame or Stuxnet, what would this look like?? Whats the difference? The money and power of U.S.A.?

    Parent is not 'flamebait' - it's a legitimate question. The answer is Yes, it's our money and power. The US government throws its weight around to get US friendly (or US business friendly) laws & treaties passed around the world. It's a byproduct of being a superpower and having a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. The globe is an international chess match between a slowly changing group of players. As long as we dole out influence, aid and weapons we will be seen and be treated differently than most countries.

  • Re:TOS Says NO! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PGC ( 880972 ) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @08:06AM (#40307283)
    Indeed, the gym tells you they are not responsible for my stuff. The person who steals my stuff from my locker however, is.

    If my stuff is in a locker at the gym and a foreign government decides to open all the lockers and takes the content, I will not sue the gym: I will sue that government.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @08:11AM (#40307319)

    Parent is not 'flamebait' - it's a legitimate question.

    Yes they are, and no it isn't. On one hand we have two governments who are close allies and work together in a variety of matters, on the other hand we have enemies who are one wrong political decision away from an all-out war. That's the difference, and it's such a massive difference as to render any application to the current situation completely invalid. He's also comparing a question of copyright to an outright assault on a country's facilities and systems, those aren't even in the same league.

    I'm not disagreeing with your post in general, as you're more-or-less on the right track. It IS a chess match, and the first thing you need to remember in chess is that while the Queen is the most powerful piece in theory, she is rarely the piece which actually decides the match.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @08:12AM (#40307323)

    So, according to what you say, American government can seize all your belongings including money on accounts with little to no cause and let the debt collectors eat you alive? And you say that it is morally and ethically OK and the government has no responsibility for what happened?

    What is moral and what is the law says are sometimes two different things. They may have followed the American law, but what they did is still not right and they are still responsible for those data or their loss.

  • by cusco ( 717999 ) <> on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @08:35AM (#40307505)
    Nice to know that not every US-allied government has gone entirely bat-shit crazy.
  • Re:Go Cloud! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @10:36AM (#40308811)

    For the most part for most people your data is safer in the cloud... Because you have a professional team who's job is to make sure the data is secure and working. Vs. Average Joe who has a USB Drive that they backup on, then put in the closet, Or keep running in a small closet overheating every summer.

    Not to many of us have RAID storage, run nightly off site backups....

    So yes your data is safer in the cloud... If your data is really that important, you should skill have an other way to get your data. Even if it is just because your Internet connection died.

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