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Megaupload boss aims to lie low
by Staff Writers
Wellington (AFP) Nov 6, 2012


Gabon to suspend new Megaupload site
Libreville (AFP) Nov 06, 2012 - Gabon's government said Tuesday it was suspending the website www.me.ga, which Internet tycoon Kim Dotcom had planned to use to launch a new version of his defunct Megaupload file-sharing site.

"I have instructed my departments... to immediately suspend the site www.me.ga," announced Communication Minister Blaise Louembe, saying he wanted to "protect intellectual property rights" and "fight cyber crime effectively".

"Gabon cannot serve as a platform or screen for committing acts aimed at violating copyrights, nor be used by unscrupulous people," the minister said.

The announcement came after Kim Dotcom unveiled plans last week to re-launch his file-sharing empire on January 20, exactly one year after he was arrested in New Zealand on online piracy charges.

The United States accuses Dotcom, a 38-year-old German national who legally changed his name from Kim Schmitz, of fraudulently making more than $175 million (135 million euros) on pirated movies, TV shows and other content.

The US wants to extradite him to face charges of money laundering, racketeering, fraud and online copyright theft that could see him jailed for up to 20 years.

Dotcom, who denies the charges, is currently free on bail in New Zealand ahead of an extradition hearing in March.

The new site, www.me.ga, was to be hosted on Gabon's .ga domain.

Louembe said the domain name had been allocated to someone in France who had then transferred it to Dotcom.

The minister said an investigation by his staff had found the site was set up to redirect traffic to another site hosted in France that would provide access to shared files.

The site was still online at 2100 GMT Tuesday, with a message saying, "On January 19 this button will change the world."

Flamboyant Megaupload boss Kim Dotcom has vowed to lie low as he awaits a US attempt to extradite him from New Zealand, fearing a backlash after making a series of high-profile announcements.

Dotcom, who communicates publicly almost exclusively through his Twitter feed, unveiled plans last week to relaunch his file-sharing empire on January 20, the first anniversary of his arrest in Auckland on online piracy charges.

A few days later, he told his 150,000 followers that he planned to revive a $400 million plan to run a fibre-optic cable from the US west coast to New Zealand, which faltered when a business consortium failed for find backers.

A spin-off of the cable plan, Dotcom tweeted, would be "free broadband for all Kiwis".

Some commentators labelled the pledge a publicity stunt and Dotcom, who has enjoyed huge popularity in New Zealand pitching his US extradition case as a David-and-Goliath struggle, said he sensed a backlash looming.

In the past, he has said he ignored calls from his lawyers to limit his Twitter musings -- which cover topics ranging from the extradition case to the US election -- but indicated he was finally willing to heed their advice.

"As much as I enjoy keeping my followers informed, I have to tweet less. Dotcom media overload. #Backlash imminent," he tweeted late Monday.

The 38-year-old German national is free on bail in New Zealand ahead of an extradition hearing in March.

He faces up to 20 years jail if convicted of money laundering, racketeering, fraud and online copyright theft in a US court.

Dotcom insists he is innocent and free to start a new file-sharing venture dubbed Mega, which will run on the website www.me.ga -- .ga is the Internet domain associated with the west African nation Gabon.

Details of the new service are scant but a teaser website linked to www.me.ga said commonly used domains such as .com and .net were vulnerable to prosecution by US authorities.

It said the new site would also use state-of-the-art encryption methods that mean only users, not the site's administrators, know what they are uploading.

That would theoretically stop authorities from accusing administrators of knowingly aiding online piracy, the central allegation facing Dotcom in the Megaupload case.

The FBI and US Justice Department allege Megaupload sites netted more than $175 million in criminal proceeds and cost copyright owners more than $500 million by offering pirated copies of movies, TV shows and other content.

In September New Zealand secret agents were deemed to have acted "unlawfully" in the way in which they monitored Dotcom in the lead up to his arrest.

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