Internet mogul Kim Dotcom launched his new cloud sharing service Mega this week in typical larger-than-life fashion, complete with a reenactment of last year's police raid at his New Zealand estate. Lucky for Dotcom, Mega's traffic so far has matched the launch theatrics.
Mega quickly became the top website in New Zealand and shot up to the 141st most-visited site in the world on Sunday. The site, which offers upwards of 50 GB of free cloud storage for new members, easily overtook sharing service favorites Dropbox and Rapidshare in terms of daily visits, according to Alexa. (It's worth noting that many users access Dropbox through desktop or mobile apps, not through the web, which lowers the site's web traffic figures.)
Mega is the new cloud-based venture from Dotcom, who saw his notable file-sharing site Megaupload shut down in January 2012 by the FBI on alleged copyright and racketeering charges. Dotcom insists the new site is legal thanks to stricter encryptions that will make its files harder to access.
ZDNet's Jack Schofeld argues that the FBI helped inflate Dotcom's status as Internet folk hero, since the agency's investigation gave Dotcom an "endless supply of free publicity," which he has used to paint the bureau as the puppet of an overzealous Hollywood. Dotcom's colorful personality and penchant for rapping, fast cars, women and guns hasn't hurt his mythology either.
Even with the strong launch, Mega's success and its future still hinge on a few unresolved factors. For one, Dotcom faces extradition to the U.S., though such an outcome seems unlikely due to mistakes made by law enforcement and New Zealand by the spy agency GCSB.
The new site's legality remains a hot topic of debate. Jonathan Bailey at Plagiarism Today notes that committing piracy using the service is more difficult due to client-side encryption, meaning downloaders will need both a link and an encryption key to access files from the uploader.
And while Mega may have dubbed itself "the privacy company," many have drawn attention to possible gaps in the safety and security of the service. Ars Technica's Dan Goodin reported that hacker Steve "Sc00bz" Thomas has released a program called MegaCracker that is capable of extracting passwords from Mega's unencrypted registration confirmation emails. Forbes and IDG News have also voiced concerns on the strength of the site's security.
Mega and Dotcom have addressed the glitch by promising forthcoming password changes. Dotcom responded to the concerns in his own special way, tweeting: "We welcome the ongoing #Mega security debate & will offer a cash prize encryption challenge soon. Let's see what you got ;-)."