[LINK] SMH: 'Megaupload closure hits legitimate users'
Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au
Mon Jan 23 08:56:00 EST 2012
[Article below on 'Megaupload closure as cloud failure'.
[I've got a paper in press at the moment that examines 49 reported
cloud outages. If I'd held off a bit longer, this could have made a
nice 50th. (That's leaving aside the question as to whether
Megaupload is genuinely cloud computing, i.e. uses virtualised
servers, or just another ISP).]
Megaupload closure hits legitimate users
The Sydney Morning Herald
January 23 2012
THE operation to arrest the founder of the online file-sharing
service Megaupload and close down the website has left users
worldwide in limbo and prompted warnings that consumers should not
rely on "cloud" storage for their data.
Kim Dotcom, who was arrested during his 38th birthday party at his
luxurious Auckland mansion, was the brain behind Megaupload, infamous
as a place to download pirated movies and television programs.
But apart from storing illegal material, Megaupload was also used
legitimately by hundreds of thousands - possibly millions - of people
around the world.
The site address yesterday displayed a notice from the FBI announcing
the domain name had been seized "pursuant to an order issued by the
US District Court", with no indication when, or even if, they would
be able to access their files again.
Steve Su, a Perth academic, was caught out by the closure. He lost
material he had uploaded to share with his students.
Mr Su said the FBI should have distinguished between legal and illegal content.
"It's like confiscating everyone's mobile phone because terrorists
used them," he said. "I don't think it's correct to penalise the
technology because, based on that logic, shouldn't the internet be
taken down, as this is how people infringe copyright?"
Mark Pesce, a futurist and web commentator, said the incident had
cast a shadow over cloud storage services in general.
"Everyone who is using a cloud-based back-up service right now is
asking themselves how secure it is," Mr Pesce said. "The folks who
have legitimate files on Megaupload can't get to them and they are
pissed off. It has made cloud services look that much less
Megaupload is just one of several popular services known as
"cyberlockers" that allow users to upload files and access them from
wherever they want.
Sites such as Dropbox, RapidShare and Hotfile typically take little
or no responsibility for the material their users upload, potentially
leaving the sites open to legal action.
The author and software developer John Allsopp said if people were
serious about protecting precious data such as family photos and
videos, keeping local copies was essential.
''In addition to keeping your content in the cloud, it's essential to
also keep a local backup,'' Mr Allsopp said.
"And because backing up is something even most tech savvy people tend
to not do religiously, a network-attached storage device which your
laptop or desktop can connect to wirelessly, and to which backups can
be automatically be made as often as several times a day, is a
Mr Dotcom and the three other men arrested in the raid are expected
to appear in an Auckland court today for proceedings to extradite
them to the US.
The police spent much of yesterday searching the $NZ 30 million ($23
million) mansion leased by Mr Dotcom in the Auckland suburb of
They removed artwork, computers, documents and 18 luxury cars, one of
which reportedly bore the number plate "GOD".
Mr Dotcom has retained the American lawyer Robert Bennett, who
represented Bill Clinton in the Paula Jones sex harassment case, to
fight charges of criminal copyright infringement and conspiracy to
Carlos Sanchez Almeida, a Spanish lawyer known for his crusading
stance on issues of online privacy and piracy, has urged users to
take stock of the data they have lost in the Megaupload shutdown in
preparation for a possible class action against the US government.
[According to Wikipedia, the free service wasn't designed as a
reliable storage service anyway: "Any file uploaded anonymously
expired if there were no downloads for at least 21 days. For the
registered free accounts, the file expiration period was 90 days
after the date the file was last downloaded. Premium accounts had no
expiration period as long as the user remained a premium member".]
Roger Clarke http://www.rogerclarke.com/
Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd 78 Sidaway St, Chapman ACT 2611 AUSTRALIA
Tel: +61 2 6288 1472, and 6288 6916
mailto:Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au http://www.xamax.com.au/
Visiting Professor in the Faculty of Law University of NSW
Visiting Professor in Computer Science Australian National University
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