MegaUpload User Data Safe for Two Weeks, EFF Joins the Fight

Those who have data on MegaUpload and were concerned that it might get deleted on Thursday by the companies that facilitate the site's storage get some good news this morning – the data has been given a slight extension. And on a related note, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has begun a campaign this week to get "innocent users" of MegaUpload’s service to get in touch with them to explore possible legal measures for retrieving their data. MegaUpload’s online storage service was shut down by U.S. law enforcement earlier this month.

A letter filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia by federal prosecutors last week said that the government had completed copying all the data it needed from MegaUpload’s servers to prosecute them and had returned custody of the servers to Cogent and Carpathia Hosting. The letter added that the two companies could start deleting MegaUpload data as early as Feb. 2.

In response, Carpathia announced yesterday that it did not have any control over the data and had not informed prosecutors of any plans to destroy it. The company today created a website where it supported the EFF's plans to assist MegaUpload users.

According to the text of the site, it is designed to "help lawful users in the United States work with EFF to investigate their options for retrieving their legitimate, non-infringing files from MegaUpload." Cogent , the other provider, is not commenting at this time.

A lawyer for MegaUpload revealed today that the two companies hosting the online file-sharing site's massive amounts of data have agreed not to destroy the data for another two weeks. In an interview today MegaUpload’s attorney Ira Rothnek said that the company would like to give "legitimate users" access to their data.

"However, its assets — including its money — are frozen, so Megaupload is working with the U.S. to unfreeze some funds so they can pay Carpathia and Cogent to give consumers access to their data," he said.

Rothken said that the data on MegaUpload’s servers is also vital in providing a defense for his clients.

"The data is important for the defense of MegaUpload," Rothken said. "In order to have a trial based on the merits of the case, all the data needs to be preserved. MegaUpload is obviously is not interested in any adversary just picking and choosing what data best suits their case," he said.

"In the meantime, however, many ordinary users of MegaUpload’s services have been swept up in the government's dragnet, and, as a consequence, have lost access to their own data," EFF staff attorney Julie Samuels wrote on the EFF Blog.

She went on to criticize the government for failing to give notice to consumers about the potential data loss and for offering no clear path for retrieving it.

"MegaUpload, of course, had many lawful customers whose data is now at risk," Samuels wrote. "Setting aside the legal case against MegaUpload, the government should try to avoid this kind of collateral damage, not create it."

Source: Computer World

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