And bam, MegaUpload.com is no more. The FBI has arrested four people behind the popular file-sharing website, and is looking for three more, in a worlwide investigation into the website. Apparently, the site is super-dangerous – the indictment behind the arrests minces no words. As a countermeasure, people claiming to be from Anonymous took down the websites of ViaCom and the Department of Justice. Update: Ars has analysed the indictment. It’s pretty damning, but does have a few weird odds and ends. Update II: And more and more sites are falling by Anonymous’ hands. Largest operation in their history.
According to the US government, MegaUpload.com is “a world-wide criminal organization whose members engaged in criminal copyright infringement and money laundering on a massive scale”. I personally rarely use the site, although I did occasionally encounter download links to the site. It’s one of those sites where you sigh when you encounter them – annoying ads, hard-to-find download buttons, and so on.
Furthermore, the US government claims MegaUpload.com offered incentives to uploaders, and that the four people who were arrested also uploaded content themselves. Money was brought in through advertising and subscriptions which offered faster download speeds and more frequent download opportunities.
What interests me most is that MegaUpload.com is a Hong Kong-based operation, and that none of the seven people mentioned in the indictment are citizens of the United States. It raises the same question I posed earlier this week: does this mean we can request the FBI arrest and extradite US politicians, like Rick Santorum, for making anti-homosexual remarks, which are illegal in The Netherlands? Or does this only go one way?
In any case, it honestly wouldn’t surprise me if MegaUpload.com truly has dirty hands here that go well beyond letting users upload possibly infringing material. Sites like this have always had a certain air of shadiness around them. On the other hand, I’ve already received an email from an OSNews reader who hosts his own creations on MegaUpload.com, and who is now denied access to his content, further highlighting the problems with sweeping government actions like this.
In any case, I’m glad the US has its priorities straight. This is obviously way more important than dealing with the rampant corruption in US Congress or the gross financial misconduct on Wall Street which has cost the people of the US hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars.
Also, didn’t we need SOPA/PIPA for this?