Kim Dotcom is a hunted man these days. Currently facing extradition to the United States on allegations of racketeering, money laundering and alleged copyright theft to the tune of more than half a billion dollars, the larger-than-life Internet freedom advocate has found himself on the receiving end of an expanding onslaught of legal entanglements. This includes motions to the New Zealand Supreme Court — which is scheduled to hear the United States’ extradition request on July 7 — filed by 10 record companies and film studios to freeze Dotcom’s assets for the duration of the trial.
In addition, Dotcom has argued that he has been denied discovery to the prosecution’s evidence and not been allowed to see his own confiscated data. In light of this and the fact that New Zealand is strongly allied and aligned with the United States — which has been receiving unrelenting pressure by the media industries toward strengthening copyright protections — Dotcom feels that the odds that he’ll avoid a visit to an American courtroom are shrinking.
To help even up his chances, Dotcom is seeking to hedge his bets. He has offered $5 million for a whistleblower that is aware of any information regarding the governments of the United States or New Zealand or the media industries illegally and improperly targeting Dotcom or his file-sharing service, Megaupload.
“It is the opinion of my legal team that disclosure of such information would be lawful,” Dotcom told Torrentfreak. “I would also guarantee that any whistleblower coming forward would have the best legal representation at zero cost.”
Many who have been following Dotcom’s case have came to see it as analogous to National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden’s leaked revelations. Megaupload was created in 2005 as a way to achieve encrypted file-sharing. Currently, the major file-sharing services — Google Drive, Microsoft SkyDrive, Dropbox, etc. — do not offer unique key encoding, meaning that not only can the hosting company read a user’s documents, but so could anyone else with access to the hosting system, including anyone who has launched a successful zero-day attack — an attack exploiting a system’s or software’s vulnerability, which was previously not known to exist. As the Snowden revelations revealed that the NSA actively engaged in zero-day attacks against information providers and computer networks, this meant that, theoretically, any unprotected document stored in cloud storage could be or had already been read by an outside third party.
The federal government and the media industries’ complaint against Megaupload stems from the fact that files stored on its servers were stored encrypted, meaning the company could not and chose not to ascertain their content. A number of users used this as an opportunity to share copyrighted materials through Megaupload.
While it can be debated whether Dotcom encouraged this behavior via the implementation of his media downloading site, Megabox, the complaints leveled against Dotcom and his company center not around his own misdeeds, but on the company’s refusal to limit the actions of its customers. Key among the federal government’s complaints are that Megaupload did not actually offer significant long-term storage for most of its customers, as most content was quickly downloaded; that Megaupload encouraged repeat downloads in order to maximize its pay-per-view advertising system; that Megaupload took no significant actions to ban or terminate users found to infringe on trademarks; and that Megaupload encouraged the uploading of popular media.
While the case against Dotcom seems daunting, he is holding to his claim that Washington’s prosecution of him reflects a deal between President Obama and Hollywood for Hollywood to support the president’s re-election campaign in return for favors.
“Former Senator and now MPAA chairman Chris Dodd and Vice President Joe Biden in particular have abused their political power to make the pre-trial destruction of Megaupload possible,” explained Dotcom.
“Joe Biden’s personal counsel (while Biden was still a Senator) Neil MacBride was promoted to a top position at the DOJ and oversaw the Megaupload destruction. We have already exposed a whole range of unlawful government conduct in the Megaupload case, backed by court rulings.”
In 2012, following the tech industry’s protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect Intellectual Property Act, Dodd infamously threatened the film industry’s support to the Democrats.
“Candidly, those who count on quote ‘Hollywood’ for support need to understand that this industry is watching very carefully who’s going to stand up for them when their job is at stake,” said Dodd to Fox News in January 2012. “Don’t ask me to write a check for you when you think your job is at risk and then don’t pay any attention to me when my job is at stake.”
“I would caution people don’t make the assumption that because the quote ‘Hollywood community’ has been historically supportive of Democrats, which they have, don’t make the false assumptions this year that because we did it in years past, we will do it this year,” he continued.
Vice President Biden led the 2012 delegation to broker a legislation deal with the Hollywood studio executives.