Federal prosecutors announced Friday that all of the data stored by 50 million MegaUpload users could be deleted as soon as Thursday, February 2nd.
U.S. prosecutors have blocked access to MegaUpload, and indicted seven men connected with the company including its founder Kim Dotcom (AKA Kim Schmitz) and its top-level executives, asserting the site facilitated millions of illegal downloads of movies, music and other copyrighted content.
The company says its millions of users stored their own data, including family photos and personal documents. They haven’t been able to see their data since the government raids earlier this month, but there has been hope they would be able to get it all back.
MegaUpload hires outside companies to store the data for a fee. But MegaUpload attorney Ira Rothken said Sunday that the government has frozen its money.
A letter filed in the case Friday by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia said storage companies Carpathia Hosting Inc. and Cogent Communications Group Inc. may begin deleting the data on Thursday.
The letter said the government copied some data from the servers but did not physically take the data or the servers. It said that now that it has executed its search warrants, it has no right to access the data. The servers are controlled by Carpathia and Cogent and issues about the future of the data must be resolved with them, prosecutors said.
Rothken said the company is working with prosecutors to try to keep the data from being erased, and that, besides its importance to the customers, the data is important to MegaUpload so it can defend itself in the legal case.
“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,” he said.
MegaUpload is based in Hong Kong. U.S. authorities said they had authority to act because some of its leased servers are in Virginia.
Carpathia Statement Contradicts Federal Announcement
In breaking news…
Carpathia Hosting, one of MegaUpload’s server companies, has responded to federal investigators’ suggestions that user data will be deleted from its servers Thursday February 2nd, pointing out it has no access to any files and denying it supplied the cut-off date.
“In reference to the letter filed by the U.S. Department of Justice with the Eastern District of Virginia on Jan. 27, 2012, 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. The reference to the Feb. 2, 2012 date in the Department of Justice letter for the deletion of content is not based on any information provided by Carpathia to the U.S. Government. We would recommend that anyone who believes that they have content on MegaUpload servers contact MegaUpload. Please do not contact Carpathia Hosting,” a company spokesperson stated.
However, with MegaUpload’s notorious CEO Kim Dotcom under arrest in New Zealand, denied bail and awaiting extradition, the company’s bank accounts in lock-down, and the site itself offline, it’s unclear exactly who users should complain to.