The crackdown on file-sharing Web site Megaupload has intensified, with federal prosecutors in the U.S. stating the deletion of user account data is expected to begin by Thursday.
The popular Web site has been facing the wrath of U.S. law enforcement agencies, at the behest of copyright cartels, who claimed the lack of a sure way to control the type of content being uploaded meant it hosted massive amounts of pirated films, music and other files. Ira Rothken, an attorney for Megaupload, said the company was in talks with prosecutors to save their users' data before it was erased.
Unfortunately for the more legally-conscious users, the fact they used to service to only store family photos and personal documents may not help their case.
The thirteenth most visited Web site on the Internet, Megaupload stores data with outside companies like Carpathia Hosting and Cogent Communications. However, the seizing of Megaupload's assets and the freezing of their bank account has left the company severely handicapped, meaning they can no longer afford to pay Carpathia and Cogent for their services.
The U.S. government's crackdown on the Web site has led several users to make angry comments. In fact, a class action lawsuit against the U.S. is being prepared by the Spanish arm of the Pirate Party, along with TorrentFreak.com.
"By closing the service, they have impeded the access to millions of archives of both private individuals and organisations, potentially causing huge personal, economic and image damages to a vast number of people," said a statement by the Pirate Party.
"The widespread damage caused by the sudden closure of Megaupload is unjustified and completely disproportionate to the aim intended," a statement obtained by TorrentFreak read. It added: "For this reason Pirates of Catalonia, in collaboration with Pirate Parties International and other Pirate Parties, have begun investigating these potential breaches of law and will facilitate submission of complaints against the US authorities in as many countries as possible, to ensure a positive and just result. This initiative is a starting point for legitimate internet users to help defend themselves from the legal abuses promoted by those wishing to aggressively lock away cultural materials for their own financial gain."
"We're cautiously optimistic at this point that because the United States, as well as Megaupload, should have a common desire to protect consumers, that this type of agreement will get done," Rothken said.
Megaupload's web services, to date, include Megaupload.com, Megapix.com, Megavideo.com, Megalive.com and Megabox.com, along with a range of services like Megaclick, Megafund, Megakey and Megapay, all of which were advertisement and financial services. There are close to 180 million registered members included through their various services.
Predictably, Megaupload's rivals - RapidShare, Hotfile and 4Shared - have noticed huge surges in traffic, as many users flock to their services in light of this news.