One of the world’s most prominent technology personalities as well as a judge have voiced their opposition to the decision by U.S. authorities to pursue Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom. Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple and a judge from New Zealand are both unhappy at the way Dotcom and his fellow Mega Conspiracy members have been treated.
Back in December last year Megaupload founder Dotcom was leading the life of a successful internet entrepreneur – complete with his own $18 million ranch in the hills above Auckland. Fast-forward to January and the U.S. decided enough was enough as they extended their laws outside of the United States to allow the DOJ and FBI to play out their Hollywood-film-in-real-life fantasy.
The DOJ/FBI’s haul back then were four people, 18 domains and $500 million in assets, and the first signs of a backlash came courtesy of an attack by Anonymous on various sites including the DOJ and FBI being taken down. Charges against the site include copyright infringement, conspiracies to commit racketeering, money laundering and copyright infringement. It’s alleged that all this infringement had cost the copyright holders $500 million in lost revenue.
Wozniak came out in support of Dotcom since visiting him in New Zealand. He told the Associated Press that the site was similar to a motorway with the pirates like speeding motorists.
“You don’t just shut down the whole street because somebody is speeding,” Wozniak added.
Dotcom, who has recently entered the realms of Twitter, has a lot of support back home in New Zealand and none of this has done anything to dumb down his confidence, which, if anything, is growing.
“The more people learn about this case the more they realize that this type of copyright disagreement between Hollywood and new cloud storage technology is a political debate, not something that belongs in the criminal court and certainly not something to justify breaking down the door to my house,” he told Fox News in an email.
Meanwhile, the Kiwi judge we mentioned earlier, Justice Helen Winkleman, has stated the raid made by the U.S. was unlawful and “invalid” as they didn’t clearly describe the offences Dotcom was accused of.
Lawyers working on case are arguing the company has no legal presence in the U.S. since it was headquartered in Hong Kong and are using this as the main defence against Dotcom being extradited. We saw earlier this week lawyers representing Richard O’Dwyer, a Brit that is accused by U.S. authorities over the TVShack.net site that faces a similar charge, that it also has no legal presence in the United States of America.
Whatever ends up happening in these two cases is likely to set a precedent for the future of the Internet. If both Dotcom, O’Dwyer and a future incarnation of the PIPA/SOPA bills manage to all pass then the Internet won’t be the free place it once was and everyone should beware of the long, worldwide arm of U.S. law enforcement.