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The Internet and Legal Jurisdictions

I'm sure you know where this is coming from, yes, the U.S. Governments targeting of Megaupload. But it's not just about Megaupload really is it, not when you think about it, it's about all data services within the U.S. and its Governments believed extended reach, be it Megaupload, Amazon, any Web Hosting company, Google Services including Apps and Gmail, or even Twitter and facebook.

Before I go any further, let me make it very clear from the outset that I have no, never had any, nor ever could see myself having any, data, dealings, association or interest in, or with, Megaupload or any of its associated companies. My interest is in the future of a free, neutral, uncensored, and UN-Govt-molested Internet.

We all know the Megaupload folks knew their services were used for allegedly illegal purposes, although registered in Hong Kong, and staff based in non U.S. countries, the U.S. Govt is claiming jurisdiction because the equipment used in providing that service was in full or in part, located on U.S. soil, this is in my opinion a fair call. However, some legal talk over this seems to suggest the U.S. Government thinks it can claim jurisdiction on anyone who uses, for example, Paypal (being located in the U.S.), or simply because they may have a .com or .net domain name, the latter being highly questionable and is really clutching at straws and reeks of pure desperation, one I'm sure any civilised and rational nation would refuse to extradite over, extradition treaties are very specific in nature as to what offences are allowed in order to meet the criteria. I have faith that the courts in my country for example, would quash based on the latter.

The danger signs have been around for well over a year with the well publicised illegal blocking of funds for Wikileaks from Visa, Mastercard, Paypal and others.

It is also reported that all of the innocent users who had perfectly legal data (docs/pictures/etc) stored on Megaupload are about to lose it all with the storage servers imminently to be wiped clean, I'd be surprised if there weren't many a lawyer in the U.S. busy preparing injunctions to stop this, or a change in heart from the U.S. Govt, but who knows, the U.S. Govt thus far has not given a damn about who it tramples over in the process of evidence gathering on its targets. Apparently Federal prosecutors have copied what they wanted, meaning now they have no legal rights to the servers (or so they claim) - this alone I have concerns about, what about for defence lawyers? What about evidence integrity? In Australia, data used for evidence must not be altered in any way, meaning, it must be the original data, not a copy, so, how can the people and the courts trust that what the U.S. Govt says is genuine, is in fact, genuine?

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure all the data they copied, which is reportedly only a tiny amount of all the storage, is enough to prove Megaupload is guilty as charged, but surely they must also have seen all of the perfectly legal files stored there, yet are prepared to deny the lawful and rightful owners of that data access to it, they have after all killed off the DNS for Megaupload, redirecting it to an Amazon hosted confiscation message, and frozen the bank accounts so the hosting providers, such as Cogent etc, wont get any cash for turning them back on even if the U.S. Govt re-enabled temporarily the DNS so users can get their data, the U.S. Govt simply does not care, but yet they should - this is an election year in the U.S. How many U.S. citizens stored private and lawful files on Megauploads services, how many U.S. citizens stored family pictures of dearly departed relatives and friends, that will in all likelihood now be trashed and lost forever, how many U.S. voters will be irate at the out of control U.S. Government and its agencies actions? I think a lot of voters will remember this...

This is also a huge wake up call to rest of the world, it should send alarm bells to anyone and everyone who is, or is considering, hosting any data in the U.S. regardless of its sensitivity or content nature, now be prepared to have your data confiscated and deleted at any time. I hate to use the already over-hyped marketing term "Cloud", but the Cloud/Hosting market in the U.S. is estimated at over 10 billion dollars a year, however, if the U.S. Govt succeeds in court squashing Megaupload and gets away with destroying the innocent members files, it will surely place all U.S. Cloud based services in extreme jeopardy, which is sure to have a negative impact on the U.S. economy, and I very seriously doubt that any foreign company or Government will ever consider trusting, or using any U.S. based Cloud/Hosting service again, especially if the data can be indiscriminately deleted simply because the servers were located on U.S. soil and someone sharing that storage allegedly did a bad thing. So it's not enough the U.S. Patriot Act, which has already made many organisations and Governments reconsider using, or terminated their Cloud/Hosting services from the U.S. because the U.S. Government and its Law Enforcement agencies (eg: FBI/CIA/DHS) can secretly spy on that data located on U.S. soil any time they want, they also now know they can just delete your data at any time despite you having committed no crime, talk about guilt by association!

Make no mistake, this will have ramifications for the U.S. and all Cloud/Hosting and Data services on that continent, and this includes the likes of Facebook, Google, Twitter, Amazon, MySpace, Google/Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, and so on, as well as the ma 'n pa shared hosting accounts. The U.S. Government is saying "tuff luck" for the collateral damage, regardless of how widespread it ends up being, it simply does not care, it's like a narrow minded troll, who wont and cant change its tunnel vision, or a big brother that gets what it wants when it wants and at any and all cost and to hell with anyone or anything that gets in its way (Wikileaks anybody?).

It's for that reason that although I only hosted three of my many sites in the U.S., I have removed all but one of them, the remaining site will also be brought back to Australia in the near future, leaving only a DNS server, I may also consider, depending on the outcome of the Megaupload case, terminating that service entirely and relying on my other UK based DNS and secondary mail forwarder which does very little at present, and that's a shame, since the guys at SIP have been nothing but helpful, very reliable, and have a clue, it is a shame I have to punish them by withdrawing from them after many years of faithful service, all because their Government and lawmakers in their country have lost the plot and are completely out of control.

Some may say it's a conspiracy theory, but many are not surprised at this action taking place twenty fours hours after the world wide Internet Blackout protesting SOPA/PIPA, the U.S. Government were made to look the damn fools that they are, at the whim of Hollywood, or, more to the point, those that claim to represent Hollywood. They wanted to show that if pushed they can shove, kind of like a massive dummy spit.

I understand we can't have a lawless society, and I wouldn't want that, but to expect every person around the world, to be aware of what's a crime in every other country is ludicrous, however, if you intend to host a service or conduct an operation in another country, you must understand you are under their jurisdiction for action you take using that service, if the crime you commit is using the service located in that country, your guilty, it most certainly should not ever extend to those who are based and operate elsewhere but may use, for example, Paypal, their business is to process funds and should only be to process funds, not be some far flung reason to drag a person committing no crime in their own country under another jurisdiction where that action might be illegal if not using that other countries service, second point in case as mentioned earlier, the U.S. thinking because someone uses a .com it can assume jurisdiction over that person. No, it certainly should not.



Update! (Feb 2, 2012)

One of Megauploads hosting providers, Carpathia, has overnight said it has no immediate plans to delete users data, this is very good news for those who had their data stored on their equipment, however access to it, is still not guaranteed...

Carpathia continues to recommend that Megaupload users seeking to retrieve their data contact Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) by visiting the MegaRetrieval.com to investigate their options for retrieving their legitimate, non-infringing files.


Update! (Feb 10, 2012)

In what can only be described as a shocking decision, Bigpond customers emails are now to be stored in the cloud. The horrifying thing about this is, Bigpond users although warned of this outsourcing, were not told the data will not be stored in Australia, but likely in either Singapore, or the U.S.A., both of which have terrible privacy laws, and as above, you can see how far the U.S. agencies will go, but it will not be much better in Singapore!

Time for Bigpond'rs to consider if they want to remain in the muddy puddle or move to brighter and greener pastures.
Reference: ITNews

I trust Telstra will no longer use the add that involves the lyrics I am, we are, Australian, since they have shown what they think of Australia.

Update! (March 1, 2012)

Yet again the U.S. shows how out of control it is, at the end of the day what has happened is that US law (in fact, Maryland state law) as been imposed on a .com domain operating outside the USA. Read more on U.S. Court orders Verisign to sieze domain

And a new warning to rethink where you host anything might be even more important now to consider given the FBI wants back doors that will of course see non U.S. citizens also targeted with this stealth secret police state mentality the U.S. Govt agencies have.
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Noel's Muses on : Why One Should Avoid The Cloud Hype

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Cloud computing is a marketing term for technologies that provide computation, software, data access, and storage services that do not require end-user knowledge of the physical location and configuration of the system that delivers the services. (Source

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