Megaupload data could be deleted by Thursday
Published Jan 30 2012, 09:22 GMT | By Andrew Laughlin
Data from users of Megaupload
could be deleted by Thursday (February 2) following the site's closure by US authorities, although lawyers for its founders are contesting the action.
Earlier in the month, US prosecutors shut down Megaupload
and charged seven men, including co-founder Kim Dotcom
, who was arrested in a raid at his mansion in New Zealand
Hollywood movie studios and the major record labels accuse Megaupload of facilitating the illegal download of their copyrighted material, costing the industries more than $500 million (£320m) in lost revenue.
However, lawyers for the website claim that it was merely used by people storing their own personal data, videos and images, similarly to Google's YouTube.
Megaupload paid external companies to store the data, but as its assets have been frozen by the US government, these companies are not being paid.
According to The AP
, a letter filed last Friday (January 27) by the US attorney's office said that storage companies Carpathia Hosting and Cogent Communications Group could start deleting stored Megaupload data by this Thursday.
The letter confirmed that US authorities had copied some data from the servers, but they do not have the right to access it after executing the search warrants.
As the servers are controlled by Carpathia and Cogent, the two companies will ultimately decide the future of the data.
However, lawyers representing the Megaupload defendants claim that their clients will be less able to defend themselves if the data is deleted.
Megaupload attorney Ira Rothken said that the firm was working with prosecutors in an attempt to stop the data from being erased.
He also noted that material belonging to Megaupload's around 50m daily users was in danger of being erased.
"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, but US authorities were able to take action as the Cogent Communications servers used by the site were located in Virginia.
Two Megaupload executives have been granted bail by a New Zealand court, but Dotcom has been held in custody after a judge decided that he would have the means and connections to flee the country
Dotcom and others are fighting extradition to the US to face charges of copyright piracy and racketeering.