MegaUpload has received a letter from the US Attorney informing the company that data uploaded by its users may be destroyed before the end of the week. The looming wipe-out is the result of MegaUpload’s lack of funds to pay for the servers. Behind the scenes, MegaUpload is hoping to convince the US Government that it’s in the best interest of everyone involved to allow users to access their data, at least temporarily.
In the wake of the MegaUpload shutdown many of the site’s users have complained about the personal files that were lost as collateral damage.
From work-related data to personal photos, the raid disabled access to hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of files that are clearly not infringing. A recent announcement by the US Attorney now suggests that these files may soon be lost forever.
“We received a letter very late Friday from the US Attorney that declared there could be an imminent destruction of Megaupload consumer data files on this coming Thursday,” MegaUpload lawyer Ira Rothken told TorrentFreak.
Rothken explains that MegaUpload is determined to protect the interests of its users, but that its hands are tied without help from the authorities. The looming data loss is linked to unpaid bills at Cogent Communications and Carpathia Hosting where MegaUpload leased some of its servers.
“We of course would like to think the United States and Megaupload would both be united in trying to avoid such a consumer protection calamity whereby innocent consumers could permanently lose access to everything from word processing files to family photos and many other things that could never practically be considered infringing,” the lawyer told TorrentFreak.
“Megaupload’s assets were frozen by the United States. Mega needs funds unfrozen to pay for bandwidth, hosting, and systems administration in order to allow consumers to get access to their data stored in the Mega cloud and to back up the same for safekeeping.”
MegaUpload has contacted the US Attorney’s office with a request to unfreeze assets including money and domains so users can get access to their personal data. If this doesn’t happen, the consequences for many MegaUpload users and the future of other cloud hosting services will be disastrous.
“If the United States fails at helping protect and restore Megaupload consumer data in an expedient fashion, it will have a chilling effect on cloud computing in the United States and worldwide. It is one thing to bring a claim for copyright infringement it is another thing to take down an entire cloud storage service in Megaupload that has substantial non infringing uses as a matter of law,” Rothken told us.
Meanwhile, MegaUpload users are also taking action themselves. Last week Pirate parties worldwide began making a list of all the people affected by the raids, and they are planning to file a complaint against authorities in the US. The EFF has also taken an interest in the issue, and is sharing data with the international Pirate parties.
For now, however, the more urgent matter is to ensure that the data doesn’t get destroyed.
Update: The data is safe for two more weeks, at least.
Update: Carpathia Hosting sent us the following statement.
“In reference to the letter filed by the U.S. Department of Justice with the Eastern District of Virginia on Jan. 27, 2012, Carpathia Hosting does not have, and has never had, access to the content on MegaUpload servers and has no mechanism for returning any content residing on such servers to MegaUpload’s customers. The reference to the Feb. 2, 2012 date in the Department of Justice letter for the deletion of content is not based on any information provided by Carpathia to the U.S. Government. We would recommend that anyone who believes that they have content on MegaUpload servers contact MegaUpload. Please do not contact Carpathia Hosting.”