Encryption, privacy, and a big cloud storage space, these are what Kim Dotcom promised future users of his newest website, Mega, during the launch at his New Zealand mansion.
According to The Telegraph, Mega is a "privacy company" as the management cannot be held liable for the content that its users upload, given that each account is accessible only by the user (or whoever has the password for the account).
But how different is Mega from Dotcom's defunct website, which allegedly robbed artists of over $500 million as copyright revenue? Here's a hands-on tour of the website to see if it's a viable sharing site or another Megaupload in the making.
A whopping 50GB of storage, privacy, and Megabox
If anything, the biggest promise that reels people in is the 50GB worth of cloud storage space-or you can choose to go for a $19.50 for 500GB of storage, according to Stuff.co.nz. Then there's the "2048-bit public/private key pair," which basically means that your password is encrypted to ensure that only you have the key to the links on your account.
Speed was also one of the hyped advantages, but according to Digital Trends, this could vary depending on the size of the file. However, this could be attributed to the large traffic that the website is currently experiencing.
In fact, News.com reported that Dotcom has even apologized to its users for the poor service that some may be experiencing through a tweet.
"We are working 24/7 and expect normal operations within 48 hours."
Megabox is a music service feature that Dotcom hopes to add to his new website sometime within the next six months.
Password is everything
While most websites allow a way to retrieve a lost or forgotten password, Mega operates with the clever notion that privacy means only you have access to your own account.
Gizmodo reports that Mega account holders cannot lose their passwords because there are no password recovery options. This is because the encryption feature does not allow Mega to store your password, which is a way to ensure that they do not have access to your stored files.
Even the encryption of each file will have its own key, generated from your password. Hence, sharing would require you to give the link to the file, as well as the file-specific key for decryption.
Protecting your file while Dotcom protects himself from it
At first glance, the encryption feature is a good deal-and it may be so for people who are genuinely looking for a way to store personal files such as pictures, documents, and home videos on the cloud.
But, according to The Economist, even though the new encryption feature is there to keep your files private, its more important function is to protect Dotcom from potential copyright infringement.
The authorities, however, seem to be hot on Dotcom's trail. "We will be watching closely to determine whether the new Mega service infringes our members' rights, particularly given that, according to our information, it has gone live without licensing content from many-if any-rights holders," a spokesman for IFPI said in an interview with Sky News.
Mega: The new pirate's treasure chest?
So, is Mega a potentially new haven for large-scale pirates? It's an unsure no, at best.
Large-scale piracy usually operate through sharing of both the links and the keys (for the convenience of their audience), which, if utilized in this manner, will only make Mega function just like its predecessor-or any other file-sharing website that get taken down due to copyright.
In addition, even if the files are encrypted, Mega's TOS puts the company as a private file-sharing service via cloud. However, you as the user can be incriminated for illegal infringements.
According to Gizmodo, the IP address and personal information used for that site is not encrypted-a potential breadcrumb trail for the authorities.
Still, Mega has just recently launched, and the year ahead may promise a few more improvements in its system.