Thursday, October 25, 2012

EFF goes to bat for man whose data was lost in Megaupload seizure; are shared hosting users at general risk?

Electronic Frontier Foundation has another story on the harm that the Megaupload seizure by Customs has caused to Megaupload users not accused of wrongdoing. 

The customer is Kyle Goodwin, who was using Megupload as a cloud backup for videos in his business reporting on sporting events in Ohio.  Goodwin’s own drive then crashed, and he lost all his data.
One could say, he should have placed his data with another Cloud provider, and made multiple hardrive backups, the way the Geek Squad usually will.

But one obvious problem is that when a customer uses a data storage or web hosting service, even if paid for by a normal hosting contract, the customer could lose all his backup data if the service is seized by government because of wrongdoing (particularly related to piracy, copyright, counterfeited goods) by other customers. 

This seems to be the case with Megaupload.  I wonder if this could happen with other “regular” providers who provide normally contracted service for a monthly or annual fee.  The danger might be greater for shared hosting than dedicated server hosting.   It’s interesting because may Internet experts recommend “paying” for space  rather than using “free” services that give no rights of redress.

It isn’t immediately apparent from media stories whether Goodwin “paid” for storage n(in a sense making the space “his” at least under some kind of tenancy) or used a free service.

Megaupload is rated yellow (“suspicious”) by McAfee site-advisor.

The US DOJ says that users’ files were never “seized”; they were taken offline so they could be “forensically imaged”.  Presumably, any user is potentially at risk until proven innocent.  Ars Technica has a story here

Tech-dirt has some details on the legal subtleties here

Wikipedia has a history of Megaupload here.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation story is here.

There is a lesson. When you use any service in conjunction with your own personal or small business plans, think through your disaster recovery issues and also outage or inaccessibility problems, that can be caused by natural disaster or by other people's crimes or negligence.  Otherwise you can lose everything, for good.  Blame won't get you anywhere. 

Turning this argument around, you see that customer service -- from others -- really matters to small business.  See my "Issue blog" posting Oct. 24. 

See also earlier story April 1, 2012, this blog.  

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