When a service forms four per cent of all the traffic on the internet, suddenly closing it down without a moment's notice is going to cause some serious backlash, as the interruption reaches out to hundreds of millions of people.
Pirate Parties worldwide have now begun to generate lists of those affected by the closure of MegaUpload, with plans to file an official complaint against the US authorities, "The widespread damage caused by the sudden closure of MegaUpload is unjustified and completely disproportionate to the aim intended ... 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 financial gain." they announced.
Whilst the Pirate Parties are those first to take action, TorrentFreak reports that legal experts and citizen rights groups have also taken an interest in the closure. Those that wish to join the complaint can do so at megaupload.pirata.cat.
So far, the FBI response to the matter has been that the T&Cs of the MegaUpload contract state that users must backup their data and that it was not guaranteed, with the accusations of which the FBI acted upon suggesting that the service was used almost exclusively for the violation of copyrighted media in a 'Mega Conspiracy'.
However, we do seriously doubt claims and figures coming from the US. Much of MegaUpload's success can be attributed to its critical mass, where by one joins the service as there is a higher chance of others using the service, along with a higher chance that X content may be found on the service; this logic rings true for legal and illegal users alike and, with a customer base of over 150 million, the law of averages would predict several million legitimate users in the worst case scenario, with this figure likely an understatement.
With no way for the FBI to gauge the value of legitimate business being conducted over MegUpload's systems, we would have to agree that actions were indeed irresponsible, despite T&Cs that don't protect user data, this does not give an entity the right to maliciously cause the loss of such data, nor does it enable users to make informed decisions on how to manage their risk. What's worse is that from a business perspective, if data and continuity of service were not a guarantee, one logical approach would be to use other file-locker services, however the extreme actions of the FBI have caused serious disruption in many such alternatives as they look to either close all together, discontinue offerings to certain regions or undergo sudden and disruptive overhauls, as, despite whether a company CEO believes that they are running a legitimate business or not, perhaps a business with an unpredictable risk of jail is just not worth running.
Making my stance clear, I understand that much illegal activity was conducted on the MegaUpload site and that action needed to be taken, however when I consider that students may have lost coursework, with firm communications potentially disrupted and personal material lost, I do feel that the FBI's approach to dealing with the matter was overplayed.
Again, we're left wondering what the future will hold for other file-locker sites.