Kim Dotcom's Mega officially launches tomorrow, but we're already in. From the membership plans we showed you this morning, the service might look like it's just another online storage locker like Dropbox or Google Drive. (Update: It's live.) But it's way more than that. Mega is a weapon aimed straight at copyright rights holders. It's maybe the most private, invincible file-sharing service of all time.
When you first sign in, you see (instead of a big red button coyly promising to change the world) a simple drag-and-drop upload tool. A Mega upload tool.
From there, you're immediately prompted to agree to terms and conditions. Our resident lawyer told us they're not very well written, but in essence, they absolve Mega for any liability whatsoever for and naughty things you might do with the service. Smart Move, Kim.
After agreeing, you arrive at your Cloud Drive—the file manager where all of your everything lives. When you select one of your files or folders to upload you realize how fast this thing is. I went ahead and uploaded Metallica's Kill Em All in just a few minutes.
From there, with a single right-click, I can generate a download link for the album. And then I can send it to whoever I want. It's Megaupload with a file manager.
So what's to stop Mega from going down just the way Megaupload did? Mega's privacy, which is a no-foolin' stroke of genius. See, all of your files are encrypted locally before they're uploaded, so Mega has no idea what anything is. It could be family photos or work documents, or an entire discography of your favorite band. Poof: online and easy to share. And importantly, Mega doesn't have the decryption key necessary to get in. See? It's a masterstroke of copyright subversion.
So why is this a copyright killer? Well, actually, it's way way more than a copyright killer; it enables the most private data exchanges of any online service available to the public. Prying eyes will have a hard time getting to them.
That's important because the private exchange of your data has always been a huge problem with online services. Take Google for example: Big G sometimes complies with requests to hand over your data—the data you thought was private. Google does it because it can be compelled to do so, and because it has access. Conversely, if authorities wanted to compel Kim Dotcom and company to hand over your data, they wouldn't be able to do it. And getting other information out of Mega—like the technical details about how its keys work—is legally problematic, to say the least. But what we do know is that it's a super clever way for Mega to protect itself from you.
So now two very big questions remain, and we can't answer them from simply demoing the site. The first, is how secure is Mega? Can hackers break in? Can the FBI?
The second question, is what are Kim Dotcom's future plans for this service? He's provided a vague roadmap for what lies ahead, but we can't be sure. We're looking forward to hearing what Kim Dotcom has to say at the launch press conference at 2:30AM EST Sunday morning. We'll be there, red-eyed and struggling to write coherently.