As the increasingly epic legal battle over every aspect of Kim Dotcom’s copyright infringement case continues, the latest focus has fallen on computers and other devices previously seized from the entrepreneur.
While some encrypted data has already been sent to the United States, the content is inaccessible due to U.S. authorities not having access to the passwords. Other data, cloned in 2013, is currently in the hands of New Zealand authorities.
This data is also of interest to the United States government as it builds its case against Dotcom and his associates. Earlier this month the New Zealand Attorney-General’s appeal to quash restrictions around sending the seized devices to the U.S. continued, with the Crown arguing for the clones and their passwords to be sent to the United States.
Partial objection to the move came from Kim Dotcom’s lawyer Ron Mansfield. While filing no opposition to the majority of the 2013 cloned data being sent to the U.S., Mansfield said that agreement could only be reached if the data was stripped of personal information and other data irrelevant to the United States’ case.
That suggestion was rejected by the Crown as impractical, with a note that even if such a task could be undertaken, New Zealand authorities would not be able to recover the costs of doing so from the United States. Mansfield’s opposition to the release of the passwords relating to the 2012 data was also opposed.
This morning three Court of Appeal judges handed down their decision and it represents a setback for Kim Dotcom and associates Finn Batato, Mathias Ortmann and Bram van der Kolk.
In their ruling Justices Douglas White, Tony Randerson and Lynton Stevens set aside earlier High Court rulings, which now frees the Attorney-general to issue new directives to police under the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act. This will enable the cloned devices to be sent to the United States.
However, it will come as little surprise that the decision is open to appeal. According to the New Zealand Herald, Dotcom and his associates will be able to challenge the move in a new judicial review in the High Court if they so choose.
With another ruling behind them, attentions now turn to Dotcom’s extradition hearing. After several delays the hearing is currently scheduled for September, but that date is also being appealed by the entrepreneur.