Kazakhstan vs. Mega Limited

In what surely is among the more unexpected news (or is it?) the Republic of Kazakhstan has taken Dotcom’s Mega Limited to the High Court in Auckland this month after documents were allegedly stolen from the Republic’s servers.

Kazakhstan originally filed a civil action in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York against the unknown hackers. This naturally hit some rocky ground because neither Kazakhstan, nor the court, knew who the hackers were. The defended was listed as “Doe”, as in “John Doe”.

As you could guess, John Doe didn’t turn up and Kazakhstan’s representatives were the only ones at the hearing.

However the US Judge did find:

There is good cause to find that the Mega website contains at least 27 files that collectively contain or once contained 27 articles containing screen shots of excerpts of the Stolen Documents. Mega now hosts these Stolen Documents. The [Kazakhstan] Republic does not know who uploaded these files to the Mega website. Mega should have information (the identifying information) which will help identify who uploaded these files. The identifying information includes the IP addresses, email addresses, contact information, account information and payment information for the accounts that were used to upload the articles containing screen shots or excerpts of the Stolen Documents onto the Mega website.

Enter the New Zealand High Court.

Judge Ramos of the SDNY wrote to the New Zealand High Court and thus began Republic of Kazakhstan v Mega Limited [2016] in Auckland, New Zealand.

It goes without saying that Mega put up a stiff defense, claiming their service was based on trust and holding the privacy of their users was of great importance. Their representative also scrambled to pick at holes in Kazakhstan’s application on legal grounds. Their defense and other notes can be found here.

In the end though the High Court ruled against Mega Limited and directed:

(a) The issuing of the subpoena requiring an authorised representative of Mega to attend at the High Court for examination before the Registrar and to produce documents in Mega’s possession, custody and/or control sufficient to identify the:
(i) IP addresses;
(ii) email addresses;
(iii) contact information;
(iv) account information; and
(v) payment information,
connected to the accounts of certain users of [Mega’s] website.

This will be very interesting to keep an eye on. Let this be a warning to hackers and their backers that they can’t hide behind anonymous services in far off jurisdictions.

It is good that the New Zealand High Court came to the party and made this decision.

More importantly it shows that the claims made by Mega in the past about anonymity were somewhat misleading.

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.