Lawyers for Megaupload are seeking legal protection for its remaining servers following a mass deletion of petabytes of data that may have included exculpatory evidence.
In June, Dutch hosting company LeaseWeb deleted all data from 630 servers that had been rented by Megaupload without warning, resulting in the loss of petabytes of data belonging to Megaupload customers. Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom called it a “huge disaster” and said his lawyers had asked LeaseWeb multiple times not to delete the data while the matter was still before U.S. courts, but also stated his belief that the deletion of the data was actually the goal of the U.S. authorities all along. “That’s why they seized all of our assets and would not even release funds to pay our hosting partners,” he said.
Megaupload lawyers repeated that point in a letter sent earlier this week to U.S. District Court Judge John Anderson, in which they ask the court to restart negotiations for a “workable solution” to ensure the preservation of data on 1103 Megaupload servers owned by Carpathia Hosting. Megaupload reached an agreement with Carpathia in April to buy the servers for $1.4 million, but that deal was blocked by U.S. authorities.
“While LeaseWeb’s deletion of relevant evidence in the face of explicit preservation requests is inexcusable, the United States is equally culpable. The Government was plainly on notice of the need to preserve the LeaseWeb servers,” the letter states. “As Megaupload has long maintained, by freezing the Defendants’ assets and denying Defendants access to or possession of the servers, the Government has exercised de facto control over the servers and is therefore in constructive possession of them. Under Brady v. Maryland and its progeny, the Government had an affirmative duty to ensure the preservation of the LeaseWeb servers and the exculpatory evidence they may have contained. The Government failed to do so.”
“The destruction of the LeaseWeb servers demonstrates the urgent need to reach a workable solution for data preservation as soon as possible, lest the 1103 servers currently in Carpathia Hosting’s possession meet the same fate,” it concludes. “We therefore respectfully urge the Court to reconvene the interested stakeholders and renew negotiations as quickly as the Court’s schedule permits.”
Letters have also been sent to LeaseWeb and the U.S. Department of Justice asking for all correspondence between the hosting company and U.S. agencies in order to “understand the extent to which LeaseWeb consulted with the U.S. Department of Justice or other U.S. authorities prior to wiping the data.”