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Hosting service Leaseweb deletes old Megaupload files in “data massacre”

Kim Dotcom says millions of files from Megaupload, the file locker site he's on trial for operating, were deleted without warning.


Kevin Collier

Internet Culture

Posted on Jun 19, 2013   Updated on Jun 1, 2021, 1:10 pm CDT

Web storage giant Kim Dotcom claims a European Web hosting company has committed “the largest data massacre in the history of the Internet.”

Netherlands-based LeaseWeb, Dotcom tweeted, deleted millions of files, “petabytes of pictures, backups, personal & business property,” belonging to people who used his former web hosting service, Megaupload.

The snafu was made possible by Dotcom’s extraordinary ongoing trials for running Megaupload. In 2012, police raided his New Zealand home, seized his servers, and arrested him, an act courts later declared illegal. Dotcom has since started a similar, sequel hosting company called Mega. He still faces five separate trials related to Megaupload, and the Department of Justice has frozen his assets.

That’s why, Dotcom said, he couldn’t afford to keep up payments to LeaseWeb. He indicated his lawyers had requested all companies hosting Megaupload data hold it until the trial was over, and be lenient about the fees until Dotcom’s funds were returned. He added that U.S.-based Carpathia, which contains other Megaupload users’ content, had honored that request.

But Dotcom never got a warning, he said, and was simply informed Wednesday that the data had been deleted February 1.

LeaseWeb appears to be in damage-control mode. Its press office in the Netherlands didn’t respond to emails requesting clarification, and when contacted by phone, the company put the Daily Dot on hold for ten minutes, then refused to take the call. A sales representative said the company was “really busy” crafting a response.

UPDATE: LeaseWeb has responded to Dotcom’s claims, saying, in part:

When Megaupload was taken offline, 60 servers owned by Megaupload were directly confiscated by the FIOD and transported to the US. Next to that, Megaupload still had 630 rented dedicated servers with LeaseWeb. For clarity, these servers were not owned by Megaupload, they were owned by LeaseWeb. For over a year these servers were being stored and preserved by LeaseWeb, at its own costs. So for over one whole year LeaseWeb kept 630 servers available, without any request to do so and without any compensation.

LeaseWeb has 60,000 servers under its management and more than 15,000 clients worldwide. The storage of the 630 servers – while a relatively small burden – must serve a purpose. 

During the year we stored the servers and the data we received no request for access nor any request to retain the data. After a year of nobody showing any interest in the servers and data we considered our options. 

LeaseWeb also claimed it informed Dotcom it planned to delete the information on those servers, which Dotcom disputes. The company didn’t respond to requests to clarify when it would have told Dotcom or Mega.

As no response was received, we commenced the re-provisioning of the servers in February 2013. To minimize security risks and maximize the privacy of our clients, it is a standard procedure at LeaseWeb to completely clean servers before they are offered to any new customer. We absolutely regret the setbacks Kim Dotcom has had since Megaupload was taken offline, but we hope he as an entrepreneur will understand our side of the story and the decisions deliberately taken.

Photo via Kim Dotcom/Twitter

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*First Published: Jun 19, 2013, 12:17 pm CDT