MegaUpload data faces deletion from Thursday

Data stored on seized file-sharing site MegaUpload could be deleted from as early as Thursday this week, Federal prosecutors in the US have confirmed, after the company's frozen assets stopped paying for the site's hosting. MegaUpload's attorney, Ira Rothken, has warned that the site has no way of continuing to maintain the data of around 50m users, The Guardian reports, while a US government letter regarding the case confirmed that data expected to be cited during the prosecution of Kim Dotcom, MegaUpload's CEO, and his team was merely copied from the servers rather than the computers themselves being among the grabbed assets.

Since the search warrant has now expired, prosecutors confirm, the government can no longer access the MegaUpload files so as to secure copies for legitimate users. Instead, it's down to hosting companies Carpathia Hosting and Cogent Communications Group to decide what to do, with one or both of the firms being free to delete content from February 2 2012.

Rothken says he is working with the US prosecutors to try to prevent that from happening, both so as to protect backups and cloud-stored files in MegaUpload, as well as to use in the company's own defense. "We're cautiously optimistic at this point" he said, "that because the United States, as well as Megaupload, should have a common desire to protect consumers, that this type of agreement will get done."

MegaUpload was taken down in mid-January, after US prosecutors accused the site of illegally sharing millions of dollars worth of movie, music and other content. Controversial founder Kim Dotcom was denied bail in a New Zealand court last week, over concerns that he could flee the country so as to avoid extradition to the US to face charges. Meanwhile, some of the site's former users have set up a legal campaign to have MegaUpload reinstated so as to be able to access non-copyright infringing content.