In the wake of the January shutdown of Megaupload, many of the site’s legitimate users complained that their personal files had been lost.
Behind the scenes Megaupload negotiated with the Department of Justice and other parties to allow these users to temporarily access their files. When these negotiations failed last month the court was asked to provide a solution, but in response it instructed the parties to reach an agreement on their own.
However, a month has passed and absolutely no progress has been made on the issue according to a document filed today by the EFF.
Representing Kyle Goodwin, a sports reporter who used Megaupload to store work-related files, the EFF has filed a motion in which it demands that the court finds a workable solution for the return of his data. Goodwin already requested the court to assist in a document filed early April, but he is tired of waiting.
According to the motion, the seizure of the data and domains violate the constitutional rights of many innocent Megaupload users.
“In seizing domain names and executing the search warrant at Carpathia, the government took constructive possession of third parties’ data, then abandoned the data under circumstances in which it was both inaccessible and potentially subject to destruction,” the motion reads.
“It is equally obvious that the seizure and continued denial of access violates Mr. Goodwin’s constitutional rights. Under the Fourth and Fifth Amendments, the government was obligated to execute the searches and seizures in a manner that reasonably protected the rights of third parties to access and retrieval.”
The motion also emphasizes that this request is not just about a single Megaupload user, there are many more who find themselves in a similar position.
“To be clear, however, there is more at stake here than Mr. Goodwin’s data. The government also seized the property of an unknown but significant number of other people along with Mr. Goodwin’s property. If the Court does not act, all of those people also face years of deprivation, if not permanent loss.”
The EFF further points out that the government has gone too far in its actions.
“What is worse, the government’s procedure and legal posture in this case appears to reflect a broader disregard for the effects its increasing use of domain and other digital seizure mechanisms can have on the innocent users of cloud computing services.”
The motion concludes by asking the court to appoint an independent third-party to investigate the exact requirements and options for a user data retrieval.
Aside from asking the court to come up with a solution for Megaupload users, the EFF suggests that the court should prescribe procedures and standards on how similar data seizures should be handled in the future.