January 31, 2012
MegaUpload User Data Safe For A Few More Weeks
Legitimate data files stored on file-sharing website MegaUpload will remain safe from deletion through at least mid-February, an attorney for the alleged piracy site confirmed today.
The news comes a day after prosecutors warned that user data would begin being deleted as early as Thursday, according to various media reports. The Associated Press reported yesterday that access to the site was currently blocked and seven employees of the service, as well as the founder, are facing charges for allowing illegally obtained content to be shared openly via users of its site.Ira Rothken, MegaUpload´s attorney, confirmed today that the data will be safe from deletion for at least two weeks, reports CNET.
But even so, there is no way for users of the legitimate content to retrieve their data, as all services have been frozen on the site, as well as the company´s assets, leaving it unable to pay its hosting fees.
“The hosting companies have been gracious enough to provide additional time so we can work out some kind of arrangement with the government,” said Rothken.
Many customers claimed they have personal backups, media collections, family photos and other legitimate information stored on the site and wish to be able to retrieve it. But anyone visiting the site only sees a statement showing the FBI takedown and domain seizure notice.
One hosting company that stores some MegaUpload data, Carpathia Hosting, said they simply cannot return user data. “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.(“¦) We would recommend that anyone who believes that they have content on MegaUpload servers contact MegaUpload. Please do not contact Carpathia Hosting,” Carpathia told Slashgear in a statement.
Authorities have made some backups of data on the site, which will be used as evidence. But while some data was copied, none was physically taken, according to CNET´s Edward Moyer. And now that they have executed the original search warrants, they cannot legally access any of the data still on those servers, he added.
If the data is erased, it will harm the Hong Kong-based file sharing firm´s ability to defend itself in upcoming court hearings. Moyer said MegaUpload was in the process of trying to reach a deal with prosecutors to keep the data from getting deleted, which could affect as many as 50 million users, especially those who have used the site for perfectly legitimate hosting.
“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,” Rothkin told the Associated Press.
Both MegaUpload and US authorities have said they would like to secure data for subsequent restoration to customers, data that will also be essential to the firm´s defense, said Rothken. Sifting through legitimate content mixed in with illegally shared files could prove daunting at best. It remains unclear whether the two week extension will be a sufficient amount of time to make such arrangements.
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