Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom has launched a new file-sharing website, promising users amped-up privacy levels in a
defiant move against the US prosecutors who accuse him of facilitating massive online piracy.
The colourful entrepreneur unveiled the "Mega" site ahead of a lavish gala and press conference planned at his New Zealand mansion on Sunday night, the anniversary of his arrest on racketeering charges related to his now-shuttered Megaupload file-sharing site.
Megaupload, which Dotcom started in 2005, was one of the most popular sites on the web until US prosecutors
shut it down, accusing Dotcom and several company officials of facilitating millions of illegal downloads.
"As of this minute one year ago [hash]Megaupload was destroyed by the US Government," Dotcom posted on his Twitter
account as the new site went live. Within hours, Dotcom wrote, Mega had received 250,000 user registrations.
US authorities are trying to extradite the German-born internet tycoon from New Zealand, where he is free on bail.
Prosecutors say Dotcom made tens of millions of dollars while filmmakers and songwriters lost around $500m in copyright revenue.
Dotcom argues that he can't be held responsible for copyright infringement committed by others, and insists Megaupload complied with copyrights by removing links to pirated material when asked.
"In the dark ages ... the enemies of progress burned books,'' Dotcom said last week at an Auckland ice cream shop, where he handed out ice cream cups, some bearing Willy Wonka-style golden tickets to his launch party.
"And now today they are burning websites. And Mega is going to be the website that is going to end all of that.''
US prosecutors declined to comment on the new site, referring only to a court document that cites several promises Dotcom made while seeking bail that he would not, and could not, start a Megaupload-style business until the criminal case was resolved.
"I can assure the Court that I have no intention and there is no risk of my reactivating the Megaupload.com website or establishing a similar internet-based business during the period until the resolution of the extradition proceedings,'' Dotcom said in a February 15, 2012, affidavit.