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Kim Dotcom's Mega faces unique hurdles

Monday 21 Jan 2013 11:24 a.m.

There was plenty of hoopla and a 'mega' party as controversial internet mogul Kim Dotcom has launched his new storage website last night.

But what does the website have to offer beyond the hype?

Technology commentator Paul Spain said on Firstline this morning that Dotcom has positioned Mega.co.nz as a cloud storage service similar to Dropbox and Microsoft Skydrive, but with added privacy controls.

"Those are not platforms that are particularly known for piracy of content," he says. "[Mega's] key differentiator is they're encrypting content on the way through, so in theory they won't be able to see what information is stored on their systems, which in some ways sort of lets them off the hook a little bit if there is illegal content that they're storing."

One of the accusations levelled at the old Megaupload.com site is that Dotcom and his business partners knew they were distributing pirated content, something they are trying to avoid this time around.

Files uploaded to the new Mega are encrypted in the user's web browser before they are uploaded to Mega's servers, so in theory, Mega doesn't know what their users are doing – and can't be held responsible.

Mr Spain says the authorities will be scrutinising Mega closely.

"But it's worth noting that there are lots of mechanisms today through which people will share files and will pirate content. This will just be one of many places where that can be done, but with the past attention [Dotcom's] had, the spotlight will be on him."

Since its launch yesterday morning, users have had trouble getting onto the site and uploading files. Dotcom claimed more than 250,000 people had logged on in the first hour, but Mr Spain says heavy demand might not be the only thing to blame.

"They've put it together in a very short space of time, and they've had to have servers in different locations than where they did in the past with Megaupload.com – obviously they want to stay outside of US jurisdiction – so they're using servers in other locations.

"That's perhaps been put together a little too quickly – but also it shows there is a lot of interest in what they're doing."

He also suggests there could be malicious attempts to take the site offline underway.

It has been a year since US authorities shut down Dotcom's Megaupload.com, but Mr Spain says a similar takedown of the New Zealand-based Mega isn't likely.

"It probably will create some political pressure for the National government, but as long as he in operating within the confines of the law here, then there is really little that can be done," says Mr Spain.

"What [Mega's lawyers] said is they've looked at Mega.co.nz in extreme detail from a legal perspective to ensure they're not breaking any laws."

Dotcom says he will be writing a book about the raid on his property in January last year. It is expected to be released in the middle of the year.

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