MegaUpload data likely to be wiped by Thursday

Nathan Pensky · January 30, 2012 · Short URL:

With accounts frozen MegaUpload can't pay its hosting companies, user files could be erased

If you had any files saved on the now-defunct and legally embattled MegaUpload -- and considering the popularity of the site, this could be possible for at least a few of you -- let's hope you backed up your files elsewhere, because they're likely to be erased.

US federal authorities who arrested four executives and operators of popular file-sharing site MegaUpload are now saying that the site's databases may be erased as soon as this Thursday. Authorities said in a letter filed in federal court that they had copied files from MegaUpload, as per their search warrants, but that they didn't actually remove any content.

"It is our understanding that the hosting companies may begin deleting the contents of the servers beginning as early as February 2, 2012," said US Attorney Neil H. McBride in said letter, as reported by CNN.

The letter also mentions how since the feds have executed their search warrants, they no longer have legal access to the files, and that the decision of whether to erase these files must be resolved with the hosting companies.

What this means is that while the federal government isn't actually erasing MegaUpload files, they are effectively causing this to happen, as they have frozen the company's finances and prevented them from paying the hosting companies that store their data, Carpathia Hosting Inc. and Cogent Communications Group Inc.

MegaUpload attorney Ira Rothken has stated that 50 million of the site's users have data, including family photos and personal documents, in danger of being erased.

This development is likely especially discouraging to those MegaUpload customers who have banded together under the auspices of suing the Federal Bureau of Investigation for locking them out of files they had uploaded to MegaUpload, which they claim were perfectly legitimate. In addition to being a site that facilitates the sharing of copyrighted material, MegaUpload also let users share non-infringing files, and the prevention of users to access these files is the basis for the above mentioned lawsuit.

Something else to consider in the possibility of MegaUpload's databases being erased, is that it may prevent company execs legal council from accessing exculpatory evidence, to be used in the company's defense. MegaUlpoad attorney Ira Rothken has indicated that the data in danger of being erased is important to proving the innocence of his clients.

"We're cautiously optimistic at this point that because the United States, as well as Megaupload, should have a common desire to protect consumers, that this type of agreement will get done," said Rothken, as reported by the Associated Press.

While MegaUpload is certainly guilty of facilitating illegal file-sharing, it's a shame that those users of the site who didn't practice illegal file-sharing are being punished right along woth those who did. Hopefully those company officials who haven't been arrested will be able to strike some kind of a bargain with the hosting companies, so users can access their files.

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