Despite early technical glitches, Kim Dotcom says it will be impossible to shutdown his new site, Mega. The Megaupload founder still faces extradition to the US on copyright theft charges.
One million visitors and more than 500,000 registered users in its first 14 hours - Kim Dotcom's new site mega.co.nz is already massively popular just days after its launch.
So popular in fact that its systems were overloaded, causing technical difficulties.
The site is seen as a replacement for Dotcom's former site, the outlawed Megaupload. Mega offers cloud storage like its predecessor. But Dotcom says its state-of-the-art encryption ensures that only the users know what they are uploading - and not the site administrators.
It sounds like increased privacy security for Mega's members.
But Dotcom says the encryption method mean the site's administrators will be able to deny having knowingly aided online piracy - if it happens.
Dotcom, a German national whose other name is Kim Schmitz, launched Mega exactly a year after his arrest in New Zealand in the world's biggest online piracy case.
He lives near Auckland, where he remains on bail as US authorities continue to seek his extradition.
"Every right to exist"
"Legally, there's just nothing there that could be used to shut us down. This site is just as legitimate and has the right to exist as Dropbox, Boxnet and other competitors," said Dotcom, referring to other popular cloud storage services.
The new site enables users to control which users can access uploaded files - unlike Megaupload, which allowed users to search all files.
Mega's encryption system automatically encodes files before the user uploads them to the site's servers. Each file receives a unique decryption key. This way the user can decide which other users get access.
"Mega is going to be huge and nothing will stop Mega," Dotcom told journalists.
Is Mega legal?
But Christian Solmecke, a media law expert in Cologne, doubts whether Mega complies with the law.
"Even though data encryption makes it harder to identify copyright infringements, it does not make the platform legal," wrote Solmecke on his blog.
Uploading a file with copyrighted material alone is not a copyright infringement, says Solmecke. It is even allowed to share the link and the encryption key with friends and family.
"But it is definitely not allowed to publish the link and key on the Internet," Solmecke says and believes it is just a matter of time before links to copyrighted content on Mega are distributed online.
Solmecke says Dotcom remains responsible for the content stored on his servers - even if he does not know what it is.
If a copyright owner reports a violation, the operator of any implicated cloud service is obliged to delete the offending content.
Dotcom's new site offers an online abuse form for reporting copyright infringements.
According to a recent ruling by Germany's Federal Court of Justice, in the event of a reported copyright infringement, Mega's staff would have to examine all relevant link collections to see whether there were other infringements of a similar kind.
But no matter whether it is legal or not, early demand for the new site was a little too much - overloads right after the launch caused long delays for people trying to access the site.
"The massive global PR around the Mega launch is simply too big to handle for our start-up," tweeted Dotcom. "I apologize for poor service quality."
New Zealand Internet consultant Steve Simms said the problems appeared to be linked to delays in servers being updated to recognize Mega's site certificate.
Qwant, a search engine promising users more privacy and "something different," has been launched in Germany. But whether the service will experience a high uptake among users remains to be seen.
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