Well, that didn’t take long. Just days after renegade Internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom announced that Megaupload would relaunch as a cloud-storage service under the Me.ga domain early next year, the URL has been shutdown, reports AFP. The government of Gabon, which is home to the .ga country-code Top Level Domain (ccTLD), says it does not want to serve as host to Dotcom’s copyright-ignoring ways.
“I have instructed my departments… to immediately suspend the site www.me.ga,” Gabon Communication Minister Blaise Louembe is quoted as saying. He added that the Gabonese government wants to “protect intellectual property rights” and “fight cyber crime effectively,” and does not want Gabon to be “used by unscrupulous people.”
Dotcom, a resident of New Zealand, has been charged by U.S. law enforcement with criminal copyright infringement and other alleged crimes, but remains free on bail while awaiting legal proceedings.
Dotcom says that Gabon’s blockage of the Me.ga domain is the result of pressure from the U.S. government, which provides aide to Gabon, and has major investments in the country’s primary industry: oil. He also blames Vivendi, a French media and telecommunications giant, for Me.ga’s short lifespan.
“The reach of the US & Vivendi: Gabon Minister announced Me.ga domain will be suspended,” tweeted Dotcom. “Calls cloud storage site cyber crime.”
But Dotcom remains optimistic, telling supporters in a subsequent tweet: “Don’t Worry. We have an alternative domain. This just demonstrates the bad faith witch hunt the US government is on.”
The plan to launch Dotcom’s cloud-storage service at the Me.ga domain was not simply a clever marketing play. In order to avoid subjecting his new service to the same fate as Megaupload, Dotcom must steer clear of any URLs that end in .com, .net, .cc, .tv, .name, or .org. The reason being, these domains are all under the control of Verisign, the Virginia-based company that has a no-bid U.S. government contract as the sole distributor of these TLDs, which means they can be seized by U.S. law enforcement. (And they often are.) The .ga domain is not under U.S. jurisdiction – at least not in any official sense.
So now, Dotcom must ensure that whatever “alternative domain” he has waiting in the wings won’t also be shut down by the government that serves as its host. The new cloud-storage service is still expected to launch on January 20, one year after the seizure of Megaupload.
In an odd turn of events, the Me.ga domain – which is currently contains no content – has reportedly been seized by a group of hackers, who say they are the “true pirates,” as opposed to Dotcom, who they believe is simply a greedy businessman.
“We’re pure in a diogenist way, we’re the true pirates, the true anarchists,” one of the hackers, “Omega,” told TorrentFreak. “Kim Dotcom is only taking advantage of us all, he is a megalomaniac with lawyers here to take advantage of us all, the nobodies, the artists he wants to profit from.”