Dotcom, the founder of the now defunct file-storage site Megaupload, held a press conference Sunday evening at his Coatesville, New Zealand mansion in order to celebrate the unveiling of his latest endeavor as well as commemorate the one year anniversary of the high-profile arrest that projected him into the international spotlight.
On January 20, 2012, over 70 uniformed officers raided Dotcom’s home in cooperation with a federal investigation launched by the United States Department of Justice. According to the DoJ, Megaupload existed as a racketeering enterprise that made Dotcom millions by encouraging users to commit copyright infringement and piracy.
During the weekend presser, Dotcom said, “the allegations against us are wrong, we are innocent and we will prevail.”
“Sometimes good things come out of terrible events,” said Dotcom. “If it wasn’t for the raid, we wouldn’t have Mega.”
As with its precursor, Mega allows users to upload large files to be shared with others around the globe. The main difference this time around, though, is Mega relies on heavy-duty encryption in order to protect the privacy of its customers.
“What we are offering is a smarter, faster and more secure way of cloud storage. And we are fully assured buy our legal team that we are in compliance with the law,” he said during the event, which was attended by over 200 friends, colleagues and members of the press.
After last year’s arrest, the Federal Bureau of Investigation shut down Megaupload, froze Dotcom’s assets and put him behind bars. Should he lose his eventual extradition hearing, he and his colleagues could be sent to the States to stand trial and possibly be sentenced to decades in prison. Speaking during Sunday’s event, though, Dotcom said the raid and the subsequent events have prompted him to examine Internet law and privacy, an opportunity that has allowed him to examine what freedom exists on the Web today and what could be done to protect it.
“We learned a thing or two about privacy intrusion this year. It motivated us to make a state of the art privacy cloud storage service,” he said. “According to the United Nations’ Charter of Human Rights, privacy is a basic human right. But it has become increasingly difficult to communicate privately.”
During a speech the preceded a question and answer session with the press, Dotcom said that last year’s raid and the international investigation that targeted him caused him to think about more than just privacy, too. Speaking on the stage behind his Coatesville home, Dotcom said last year’s incident was also an example of how willing Washington is to break its own laws in order to make an example out of someone that doesn’t suit their model of how businesses should work on the Web
“The issues surrounding the unlawful seizure of Megaupload and the destruction of our business have opened up an urgent and ongoing political debate,” he said. “The Internet belongs to no man or industry or government. I’m convinced that the Internet is the key to the betterment of mankind, yet I see several large corporations and governments practicing legal warfare through the misuse of copyrights in an attempt to take control of the Internet and chill free speech. Let me assure you, that it is profit that motivates certain large corporations and the content industry to strain Internet growth. These attempts to rule the web are against innovations and they have to stop.”
“Our company and asserts were taken away from us without a hearing. The US government did this secretly without notice to us and without our ability to make any arguments in front of the judge. The privacy of our users was intruded on, communications were taken offline and free speech was attacked. Let me be clear: to those who use copyright law as a weapon to drown innovation and stifle competition, you will be left on the side of the road of history. No matter how many politicians you lobby, no matter how many SOPAs your money buys . . . you will not succeed with your attempt to take control of our Internet,” he said.
Addressing the media only a few hours after Mega went live, Dotcom said the site had already been visited by over a million people, half of whom registered for accounts.
“That’s not bad for a small Kiwi start up,” he quipped on stage. “So I can tell you already now that Mega is going to be huge and nothing will stop Mega.”