Megaupload data 'to be destroyed': Could feds swoop on file-sharers?

Summary:Megaupload users are expected to lose all of their uploaded data, including content they own the copyright to, thanks to this month's raid on the file-sharing company.

U.S. federal prosecutors said on Sunday that data uploaded from users of Megaupload could be deleted as soon as Thursday.

It comes less than a fortnight since the home of founder Kim Dotcom and other senior staff were raided by joint U.S. and New Zealand authorities, and the site seized and shutdown.

Since then, users of the site --- many of which say they have uploaded content they own, such as family pictures and personal documents --- have not been able to store their own cloud-stored data.

There had been hope that users would be able to access their data, but hope is fading fast.

The AP cites a letter filed with the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, by storage companies Carpathia Hosting and Cogent Communications --- both of which host data for Megaupload --- noting that U.S. authorities have the required search warrants and seek access to the data. Because Megaupload's assets have been frozen, it can no longer pay for hosting or to support its operations.

It is thought that some of the data was copied, but U.S. authorities are looking to gain physical access to the data.

While Megaupload was based in Hong Kong, the U.S. said it had the authority to act because some of the servers were based in Virginia.

While HTTP downloaded content from file-sharing sites, such as MegaUpload, FileShare, FileSonic and others, can not be traced in transit unlike torrents, server logs could show from which IP addresses illegally downloaded content was accessed from.

While consumers are worried about their personal files, some may soon be more worried that repeat downloaders of illegally hosted copyrighted works could be the next target.

Megaupload was in the top 100 most visited websites on the Web, according to Internet traffic analytics firm Alexa, before it was shut down.

Since then, many other file-sharing sites have restricted users' accounts from either U.S.-targeted IP address blocking or preventing new uploads from being accepted. Seen as a defensive move by these sites, many file-sharing companies seek to limit the damage caused by the Megaupload raid.

Image source: Megaupload/FBI.

Topics: Browser

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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