[LINK] US govt used spyware on Megaupload??

Jan Whitaker jwhit at janwhitaker.com
Fri Feb 3 19:43:19 AEDT 2012

Feds: We obtained MegaUpload conversations with search warrant


by <http://www.cnet.com/profile/sandonet/>Greg Sandoval and 
<http://www.cnet.com/profile/declan00/>Declan McCullagh January 31, 
2012 4:19 AM PST <http://www.twitter.com/sandoCNET>Follow @sandoCNET

One of the most curious aspects of the U.S. government's case against 
MegaUpload is the large number of the company's internal 
communications acquired by the FBI.

In one exchange, MegaUpload managers fretted via Skype IM chat in 
2007 that founder Kim Dotcom wasn't "safe with his money" and "the 
current situation is a bit risky," according to documents U.S. 
authorities filed with a New Zealand court this month as part of 
their criminal pursuit of the embattled cyberlocker service.

While it's still not clear how federal investigators gained access to 
the conversations of founder 
DotCom and other top managers, there are hints that the FBI managed 
to place government-issued spyware on the defendants' computers.

cites alleged conversations between DotCom and his top lieutenants, 
including <http://www.scribd.com/doc/78786408/Mega-Indictment>e-mail 
and Skype instant-messaging logs. Some of the records go back nearly 
five years, to MegaUpload's earliest days as a cyberlocker 
service--even though 
<http://www.skype.com/intl/en-us/legal/privacy/general/>Skype says 
"IM history messages will be stored for a maximum of 30 days" and the 
criminal investigation didn't begin until a 
months ago.

Sources told CNET yesterday that Skype, the Internet phone service 
owned by Microsoft, was not asked by the feds to turn over 
information and was not served with legal process.

The U.S. Department of Justice told CNET that it obtained a judge's 
approval before securing the correspondence, which wouldn't have been 
necessary in the case of an informant. "Electronic evidence was 
obtained though search warrants, which are reviewed and approved by a 
U.S. court," a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern 
District of Virginia said.

In 2007, the FBI 
<http://news.cnet.com/8301-10784_3-9746451-7.html>obtained court 
approval to implant spyware called CIPAV on a suspect's computer, 
which transmitted to government computers an ongoing log of the 
user's outbound connections. Documents obtained by CNET through the 
Freedom of Information Act in 2009 
<http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-10222294-38.html>show that CIPAV 
has been used in investigations designed to nab extortionists, 
database-deleting hackers, child molesters, and hitmen.

Skype saves chat records with contacts in a directory on the local 
hard drive, which could be accessed by FBI-planted spyware.

It's not only the FBI that uses spyware to intercept communications. 
Last fall, the Chaos Computer Club 
that German police were using spyware that could activate the 
suspect's microphone and webcam.

The MegaUpload indictment is unusually long and detailed, weighing in 
at over 70 pages, and was drafted last year. U.S. officials filed 
additional documents with the New Zealand court during DotCom's bail 
hearing. DotCom (aka Kim Schmitz) wasn't arrested in New Zealand 
January 19. Yesterday 
users learned that their data would not be deleted for at least two weeks.

The feds allege that DotCom and six other MegaUpload employees 
enabled millions of people to use the company's cyberlockers to store 
pirated TV shows and films and then share them with each other 
without compensating creators. The government accuses MegaUpload's 
administrators of pocketing millions and has charged them with money 
laundering, racketeering, and piracy.

Ira Rothken, MegaUpload's attorney, declined to comment yesterday 
about how his client's internal documents were obtained by the 
government, but said the government's "allegations are flimsy under the law."

On January 19, New Zealand police 
the home of DotCom in a rural area outside of Auckland. The U.S. 
government is seeking to extradite DotCom; a local judge 
bail and an 
hearing is scheduled for February 22.

[several related megaupload stories on this page 

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
jwhit at janwhitaker.com
blog: http://janwhitaker.com/jansblog/
business: http://www.janwhitaker.com

Our truest response to the irrationality of the world is to paint or 
sing or write, for only in such response do we find truth.
~Madeline L'Engle, writer

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