Time flies they say, but it's true, it does fly and indeed it flew for Mega's founder Kim Dotcom. It's been only a year since the man behind megaupload was arrested on piracy cahrges.
Now he's back for his share of payback. As a way to call out for attention, he put on a show "a re-enactment of the dramatic raid on his home a year ago, when New Zealand police swooped down in helicopters onto the mansion grounds and arrested him in a safe room where he was hiding."
"Mega is going to be huge, and nothing will stop Mega - whoo!" Dotcom, 39, shouted from a giant stage in the grounds of his mansion, seconds before a helicopter roared overhead and faux police agents rappelled down the side of his mansion.
Mega: a new file-sharing site that allegedly comes with military-grade encryption that will keep files shared there so private that even the site operators won’t know what they are. Dotcom believes this will clear Mega of liability in the face of claims of copyright infringement.
Like Megaupload, Dotcom's new site allows users to store and share large files. It offers 50 gigabytes of free storage, much more than similar sites such as Dropbox and Google Drive, and features a drag-and-drop upload tool.
The key difference is an encryption and decryption feature for data transfers that Dotcom says will protect him from the legal drama that has entangled Megaupload and threatened to put him behind bars.
The decryption keys for uploaded files are held by the users, not Mega, which means the company can't see what's in the files being shared. Dotcom argues that Mega – which bills itself as "the privacy company" – therefore can't be held liable for content it cannot see.
With Mega, users can now control access to their files, something they couldn’t do on Megaupload where anyone could search and download what was stored there.
The site is surprisingly simple, and it works more or less like other cloud storage services, à la Dropbox, Google Drive, WeTransfer, or RapidShare. However, unlike Dropbox, you have to interact with Mega through a desktop Web browser (and not through a mobile device or client app).
The upload and download speeds appear to be comparable to rival sites—the main advantage being that Mega keeps end-to-end encrypted data under a 2048-bit RSA key (and theoretically away from the prying eyes of government authorities).
Once you create an account, the first thing the site does is generate that crypto key for you. As a Firefox user, Mega also warned me to switch to Google Chrome, as not doing so would “adversely affect [my] file transfer performance." A browser switch later, and I was faced with a blank “file manager,” which was practically begging me to upload files.
I poked around some of the option pages and noticed that Dotcom was nice enough (at first) to give Ars a “Pro II” account, which comes with 100GB of storage. That’s double what the unwashed masses will get (50GB) but still a far cry from what he had originally promised (200GB). However, when I logged in a second time on Friday morning, this dropped back to 50GB with no explanation.
Another thing I noticed when I logged in earlier that has since disappeared is mention of “vouchers,” “purchase history,” and “transaction history,” which seems to suggest that users will be able to control downloaded files through a purchase mechanism. Subsequently, I have been downgraded to a Free account and I no longer have that option.
Paul Spain (host of the weekly NZ Tech Podcast, one of New Zealand's leading locally produced podcasts) Had an appointment with Kim Dotcom and these are his final conclusions after the chat:
1. Mega’s management team is making every effort to operate in a manner that does not fall afoul of the law (though it could be argued they did the same with Megaupload).
2. Mega will be used to distribute copyrighted materials such as movies, TV shows and music -– though likely to a lesser extent than Megaupload did.
3. Kim Dotcom will continue to draw controversy and be outspoken about the rights of Internet users everywhere. He is not backing down.