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NZ High Court Rules the FBI Should Not Have Posession of Dotcom HDDs, Denies Access to Encryption Keys

by on03 July 2014 2657 times

So, remember back when the FBI removed data that is was not allowed to search for from the home of Kim Dotcom, (that they were not really allowed to search)? Well if not we will sum things up for you here. Back when the US DoJ was really pushing the Mega Upload case the FBI convinced New Zealand law enforcement to execute a raid on the Dotcom house without a properly defined warrant. The reason it was not properly defined is that it did not spell out what they were searching for.

Now in the US blanket style warrants can often be pushed through with enough probable cause although they are rare. Typically a warrant spells out a few principal items, but includes a clause that allows for the confiscation and processing of anything that might be properly tied to the case after inspection. The FBI decided to try this in New Zealand and were able to apply enough pressure to get the warrant signed and executed, but with a caveat: they had to allow for a review of all data before they took possession of any of it.

Well, instead of following that particular part of the order they (the FBI) decided to go ahead and make copies of disk drives found in some of the computers in the Dot Com house. According to reports these drives were not on the original warrant and should not have been collected in the first place. On top of that the FBI was in violation of the order by making copies before the collected evidence was reviewed and then actually taking these copies back to the US.

Their plan was to get them back in the hopes they would find something to hold up the original claims of willful and criminal infringement by Dotcom and Mega Upload. They had planned to use any evidence found (they did not have any legal evidence to begin with) to extradite Dotcom to face trial in the US.

The plan did not work out so well as the New Zealand High Court has ruled that the data will not be made available to the US. Dotcom has said previously that he would hand over the encryption keys for the drives to the New Zealand Police, but only on the condition that they do not share those keys with the US. As you might imagine the New Zealand police want to share them so they do not anger their new found friends in the US DoJ and Copyright Lobby.

Of course there is always the change that the FBI has already accessed the data on the drives with the help of the NSA. The problem with this, for the FBI and the case against Dotcom, is that the evidence would not be admissible in any court in New Zealand because the drives are now considered illegally obtained evidence.

This is certainly a win for Dotcom who has maintained his claim that the original law suit, raid and subsequent seizure of Mega Upload and all of his assets were orchestrated by the US Copyright Lobby (pronounce that Cartel) due to the number of independent artists that were eager to use the upload service as a distribution point. Dotcom was also working on a new service that would have directly impacted many new content distribution services that the MPAA, RIAA and software copyright groups were brokering. Some have felt that the entire affair was not really about infringement, but about killing off a rival in the industry. To be honest with you after watching the court case since it began there is mounting evidence that this is the case.

To this date the US DoJ has not brought any evidence to support their original claim despite the illegal collection from the Dotcom house. There are even indications that the original evidence used to file the suit is tainted as it may have been part of a cooperative operation with Dotcom. The Mega Upload founder was working with the FBI to track and remove individuals that were infringing at one point and it appears that some of that information was used for the original filing. Recently the only thing the DoJ has done is push to hold on to Dotcom’s money simply because they can. They have no proof of wrong doing, but they continue to ask to maintain the seizure so they can keep looking.

We said it before, so we will go ahead and say it again. Since the DoJ and the Copyright Lobby have no evidence to move forward they are turning this into a siege and hope that Dotcom will wither inside his home without access to all of his assets. Does this really sound like anything close to ethical to you?

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Last modified on 03 July 2014
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