Megaupload proved to be an astoundingly useful resource for many people and fell quickly when they caught up in a feud with the big media industry in the form of the MPAA and RIAA. The picture painted by the entertainment industry is that Megaupload was a fraud site existing primarily to move illegal copies of copyrighted materials and little else—the return salvo against this portrait, however, comes from Kim Dotcom and TorrentFreak revealing that a multitude of users found MU useful including accounts connected to the Senate, Department of Homeland Security, FBI and NASA and even 15,634 belonging to the US military.
Contrary to allegations that it was a haven for piracy, it looks like a great deal of very legitimate people used the service to transfer files far too large to e-mail.
Much of the reason why this is important is because after the United States seized MegaUpoad’s servers there has been a great deal of concern about the disposition of the data on those servers. After all, a great deal of people used the service to do legitimate file transfers and suddenly they’ve been cut off from their data. Initially, it looked like the data would just vanish into the aether as MU’s assets were frozen and with nobody to pay the power bill (or the data center) it would just repurpose those servers; then the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) stepped in to save the day and help people recover their data.
That would become the EFF’s MegaRetrieval campaign.
The revelations of this campaign happen to be quite interesting when it comes to understanding who used the service, for what, and why, according to TorrentFreak:
As part of this process, Megaupload discovered that a large number of Mega accounts are held by US government officials. Today, thanks to fresh information provided to TorrentFreak by Kim Dotcom, we can reveal more details.
From domains including dhs.gov, doe.gov, fbi.gov, hhs.gov, nasa.gov, senate.gov, treas.gov and uscourts.gov, the number of accounts held at Megaupload total 1058. Of these, 344 users went the extra mile and paid for premium access. Between them they uploaded 15,242 files – a total of 1,851,791 MB.
While a couple of million megabytes of lost data is bad enough, another group – the ladies and gentlemen of the US Military – stands to lose much, much more.
Looking at a cross section of .gov domains (including the FBI, NASA, the Senate, etc.) it looks as if they’d held accounts on the order of 1058 accounts, 344 of whom had paid for premium access—between all the accounts they’d uploaded almost 15,242 files weighing in at 1,851,791 MB.
What’s a few million megabytes of lost data between government friends? Then there’s the statistics from the US military.
Domains supporting a .mil TLD totaled 15,364 accounts with an inspiring 10,233 of those paying for premium access—between them they uploaded 340,983 files weighing in at around 96,507,779 MB.
No doubt people might question if these .gov and .mil users happened to be using MegaUpload to commit copyright crimes, and there’s not much information on what percentage of MU users or total data this represents; but it does show that the storage site saw a lot of traffic from sources best known for a little bit of personal ethics who aren’t just so-called pirates.
The takedown of MegaUpload caused chill winds to blow through a blizzard in the cloud because the site seemed pretty legitimate to many other cloud-storage outfits—even if Kim Dotcom does look like a jet-set and sleazy CEO—as a result we’ve seen the closures and reaction from numerous offsite storage outfits like BTJunkie and FileSonic. The impact of this action will be felt for quite some time, especially as people wonder about what powers the RIAA and MPAA and US government should have over suspected copyright infringement in the cloud.