Dotcom breaks silence, scouts Australian entrepreneurs for Meganet

Internet tycoon Kim Dotcom has pitched his latest initiative to budding Australian entrepreneurs, and is scouting staff and outlining Meganet's crowdfunding agenda.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

The internet as we know it today is a giant public forum for numerous governments to know everything that we are doing, according to internet figure, Kim Dotcom.

Speaking via Skype at the 2015 SydStart in Sydney, Dotcom divulged the plans of his latest brainchild, Meganet, an alternate internet he said is safe, secure, and impenetrable by anyone, even government bodies.
Kim Dotcom in Sydney via Skype
(Image: ZDNet/Asha Barbaschow)

In a room of Australian startups, Dotcom took the opportunity to scout entrepreneurs for the impending launch of Meganet.

"If you're a software developer who's looking to work on something exciting and has a security background or a designer, or whatever, when the time comes, don't hesitate to contact me," Dotcom said.

Dotcom said recent revelations that have come from former-NSA contractor, Edward Snowden, have opened the eyes of the world to what he believes is currently going on with privacy.

"One would have thought that with all these revelations and all the media hype around them, the governments will now stop these things, and that they will listen to us, and change path -- but they haven't," he said.

"Currently, all of these governments that didn't have the same capabilities like the US are now in an arms race with each other to try and have similar systems and the same kinds of surveillances."

Dotcom said as a result, the internet has become the gathering ground for surveillance agencies. According to Dotcom, such agencies are extracting people's personal data to their "spy cloud", which automatically transcribed emails, text messages, and mobile calls have all made their way to.

"Whenever you become a person of interest, they type in your phone number, they type in your name and the database just spits out everything they have and they've been doing this for last five years," he said.

"They've expanded their capacity and they now have enough data storage to basically store all global communications, and they are expanding on that every day."

Hesitant to place trust in the government, Dotcom said after learning of such practices he took it upon himself to fix things.

"I wanted to create a solution that replaces the current infrastructure that is so flawed and fragile, so I started work two years ago on my alternative internet, Meganet," he said.

Meganet is a non-IP based internet, with no IP addresses. Dotcom said it uses blockchain and other new protocols to communicate and exchange data.

"The way it works is pretty astonishing because if you don't have IP addresses, you can't hack the server, you can't perform a denial of service attack on websites, or gaming services, and you can't take an entire site and services offline any more. Most importantly, it is very difficult for governments to invade on our privacy," he said.

"This entire network that I'm working on is fully encrypted, and the way it works is really a network from the people, for the people.

"The more people who install our app and our software onto their devices, the more powerful the network will become, and I believe after we launch it into beta in about a year from now, we will probably have 100 million users within the first year. Once we push the button and this thing goes live, no one can shut it down, not even us, the people that initiated and started it, and I hope that this will be one of many approaches to try and stop governments from taking control of this beautiful thing that is the internet."

Dotcom believes another problem facing the future of the internet is the reigns that large corporations in the US are pulling over the internet. He said internet providers enjoy the leverage they have over internet use, giving the speedier connections to users who pay more. He added such corporations are getting richer, while service that is being provided is not what was envisaged when the internet came about.

Dotcom said Meganet will use the existing internet as a dumb client, with devices and server software rolling out over time.

"It will take time, it might even take a decade before we have the mass connectivity that I think we will have, but when we achieve that, the internet will be truly for the people, it will be truly free, and no one will be able to interfere with it, survey us, or invade our privacy," he said.

Dotcom also said he is planning a seed funding round of $5 million in January, as well as plans to offer crowdfunding investment in exchange for company equity.

"It's a really cool thing because we want tens of thousands of people from around the world to carry this network and be part of the success story I think it will be," Dotcom said. "I've been through a lot over the last couple of years, and I've learnt a lot about how the world works, what forces are at bay, what powers can do to us, and this is my legacy -- I want to create something that the world will be using for a very long time.

"It will keep our privacy safe, and when you see how it all works and the beauty of it, I'm sure there will be a giant ecosystem of apps and sites around this new technology, which will also be based around digital currencies -- we're saying bye-bye to world money and hello to everything that's new, safe, and private.

"I'm very excited, because I think this is the way forward to establish true internet freedom."

Last month, Dotcom faced Auckland District Court on charges relating to copyright violation, racketeering, and money laundering, stemming from his now closed file storing website, Megaupload.

"When distractions are stripped away, the evidence boils down to a simple scheme of fraud," Christine Gordon QC said. "[They] were part of a conspiracy, they deliberately attracted copyright infringing material to their websites, deliberately preserved that material, deliberately took steps to profit from that material, and made vast sums of money, which they then put to purpose knowing that money had been unlawfully acquired."

In 2012, US authorities shut down Megaupload and arrested its proprietors; Dotcom has since avoided extradition to the United States.

Throughout the three-and-a-half year wait for Dotcom, it was discussed that his foundation charge, copyright violation, was not a criminal offence in New Zealand, and under that proviso, it was said he could not be extradited to the US for that, highlighting the other two charges built on top needed to be sustained.

Dotcom has kept busy whilst embroiled in the legal battle, starting up cloud storage firm Mega in 2013, which he then stepped back from to fight the extradition charges and to bankroll the failed political party, the Internet Party, which was unsuccessful in gaining a seat in parliament during last year's New Zealand general election.

Dotcom found himself in the spotlight again in July after Mega -- which claims it has more than 18 million registered users -- hit back at claims by him that the company is in the hands of a wanted Chinese investor whose shares have been seized, and is wanted for fraud by the New Zealand government.

"As a result of this and a number of other confidential issues, I don't trust Mega any more," Dotcom said at the time. "I don't think your data is safe on Mega any more."

Despite not uttering a word on his court proceedings, shortly after his video appearance in Sydney, Dotcom took to social media to rack up support for his court case.

"I wish you could all be at my court hearing on Monday. It's going to be good. #Popcorn," Dotcom said on Twitter.

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