MegaUpload data reprieve: Safe until mid-February

Legitimate user data stored with seized file-sharing service MegaUpload is safe from deletion until at least mid-February, the lawyer for the piracy-accused site has confirmed, though there's still no way for users to actually access it. Having been taken down by US federal prosecutors earlier this month, the longevity of MegaUpload's database was in question after investigators said hosting companies could begin deleting data from Thursday, February 2. That's been avoided, MegaUpload lawyer Ira Rothken told TorrentFreak, for "at least" two weeks more.

Concerns around the safety of data had been sparked from the original legal action taken against MegaUpload, with legitimate users claiming their personal backups, media collections, family photos and other information had been uploaded to the site. At present, however, visiting shows only the FBI takedown and domain seizure notice.

However, worries around access turned to fears the data could be irretrievably lost, when it was suggested that – with its assets frozen – MegaUpload could no longer pay its hosting companies. US investigators had not seized entire servers, but merely copied select data expected to be used in the eventual legal action.

One of MegaUpload's hosts, Carpathia Hosting, told SlashGear yesterday that it had no access to user data, asked that users not contact it for retrieval, but also said it was not the source of the February 2 delete date. The other named host, Cogent Communications Group, is yet to comment publicly, though according to CNET has been in contact with MegaUpload. "The hosting companies have been gracious enough to provide additional time" Rothken confirmed, "so we can work out some kind of arrangement with the government."

Both MegaUpload and US authorities have said they would like to secure data for subsequent restoration to customers, data which Rothken also claims will be essential to his clients' defense, though there's no detail on how that might be managed. Sifting through legitimate content mixed in with illegally shared files is, given the scale of MegaUpload's operation, likely to be a herculean task, and it's unclear if the two week extension apparently agreed will be sufficient time to make arrangements.