Privacy = Piracy?

Have you ever downloaded music or movies from the Internet without paying for them? Well, if yes, I am shut downwelcoming

you to the era of Filesharing in the Internet. The only problem: It is illegal as a violation of copyright and there are tremendous penalties that could await you.

However, my roommate and IT-specialist George explained to me that there is one guy who found a way to “legalize” it: Kim Dotcom (born: Kim Schmitz) has launched his new cloud platform – called “Mega” on January 20th 2013. It is the follow-up to “Megaupload” that has been shut down by law enforcement exactly one year ago.


                                                                               

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Easy: Everything is encrypted: not only communication amongst the users, but also each and every file
SSL encryptionthe
user

uploads has its own encryption key that no one can decode unless the user gives them the key that he has provided for this exact file. Hence, all the files are being exchanged illegally, but in a legal way – without anybody knowing, not even Dotcom.                                                                                    

Dotcom says that 500.000 users have registered for Mega within the first 14 hours. That’s crazy! Let me reveal one fact. There was a reason why Dotcom was arrested one year ago. According to the US public authority, Dotcom has consciously infringed copyrights and caused damages of the amount of 500Mio. $. And here it is: “Mega” is the same thing as “Megaupload” – just legal. Don’t believe me?

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The new technique of encryption enables to uncover data content for only those who have the key for it to decode. So, if you don’t have the key to the content, you cannot see it, thus you cannot do anything with that, because you don’t even know what it is. This differs from all the public storage wegpages like kino.to or movie2k.to, cause you can just click on whatever movie you want to watch. But if the government can’t see what’s behind these encryptions a.k.a hieroglyphics , how can they possibly prohibit it?

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Yes! According to Alan Woodward from the Department of Computing at the University of Surrey Mega’s encryption is “less than ideal, because it is done through Javascript in the browser, which means that anyone who can break the so called SSL encryption on Mega could get hold of the keys”. Moreover, Mega’s SSL encryption appears to be 1024-Bit. Some experts argue that this encryption can be broken much easier than a 2048-Bit encryption. Others, on the other hand, say that this is not true and that the FBI would be the only institution that could decode 1024-Bit encryptions.  So, no matter what it is, Mega surprisingly agrees to all of that in its blog but also emphasizes that the person who could break the system could break even more interesting things like bank transactions for example.

It is more worrying to me that author Lee Hutchinson from Ars Technica states that Mega uses a symmetrical encryption, which means that there is the same key for saving and reading a file. Moreover, the key is being saved on the Mega-server and not on the processor of the user, which indicates that Mega do can have access to the content being shared on its platform. It would only take a minor code change on Mega’s servers to access those keys, as Co-founder Bram ven der Kolk says.

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This is the question of the day. Especially the Kiwis regard Dotcom as being a fighter for freedom in the Internet not only cause he’s planning to propose free broadband through resurrecting the Pacific Fibre cable connecting New Zealand to the United States but also cause he’s bringing a lot of money to down under.

Nevertheless, Dotcom has violated many, many rights. Plus, he has encouraged 180 Mio. people to register for his former “Megaupload”-page to do the same thing. No doubt – he is practicing Internet Piracy in a smart way. Security experts say that the data protection is so important for Mega because it is handing the encryption keys to the users in order to protect itself from law enforcement action. “I think Mega is using encryption not for the security of their users but their own personal legal protection” Woodward added. This is smart. Hence, Dotcom is considering himself not guilty, cause he is “just the provider” that doesn’t have influence on what his users exchange. Matthias Leonardy, society of copyright, replies that although Dotcom is only providing the platform, he is still criminally liable.

stop piracy

Since Mega has a legal business concept, the crime is commited by the user. The responsibility lies in him. Regardless, Mega tweeted five measures how to stop piracy – how ironic:

  1. Create great stuff
  2. Make it easy to buy
  3. Same day world wide release
  4. Fair price
  5. Works on any device

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…we cannot stop piracy: Our digital privacy and civil rights will be abolished by the content industry in order to be able to control the platforms. All private data shall be available for public authorities and onsold to third parties.

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The content industry wants to protect their chain of distribution, cause this is how they make money. Would they ever take this huge step of controlling every Bit on the Internet? This would mean no privacy any more. But is Filesharing preventable? What do you think? Will Mega be lasting on the world wide web in the future? Will all of Dotcom’s 28 lawyers be able to protect him and his new start-up?

I am not sure. I always used to think that technology can’t get even better. But everyday i am told by the opposite. Technology is always evolving so that there will always be some holes in the system and challenges to win the fight against piracy. Or?

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