WELLINGTON The founder of the outlawed Megaupload file-sharing site denounced on Thursday "the largest data massacre in the history of the internet", after a European firm wiped out private photos, videos and documents stored on servers used by the site.
Dutch firm LeaseWeb said it had in February erased 630 servers rented by Megaupload, about a year after U.S. authorities closed the site and charged its operators with facilitating online piracy, racketeering and money laundering.
"Our lawyers have repeatedly asked LeaseWeb not to delete Megaupload servers while court proceedings are pending in the U.S.," Kim Dotcom said on Twitter.
"We were never warned about the deletion," Dotcom said, adding that the loss of the files had reduced him to tears.
Dotcom, who also goes by the name Kim Schmitz, has New Zealand residency. He and his colleagues are fighting extradition to the United States.
He argues that Megaupload was merely a storage facility for online files, and should not be held accountable for the content of those files.
LeaseWeb said it had been maintaining the servers at its own expense since Megaupload was shuttered in January 2012. After the servers sat inactive for a year, and with no requests to access them, it said it had informed Megaupload that it would delete them.
"After a year of nobody showing any interest in the servers and data we considered our options ... we commenced the re-provisioning of the servers in February 2013," LeaseWeb said in a blog post.
The deleted servers represent a fraction of servers Megaupload had leased around the world to provide storage space for users who uploaded everything from family photos to pirated Hollywood films onto the file sharing site.
In North America alone, Megaupload leases 1,100 servers from Carpathia Hosting, while Cogent Communications Group Inc also provides servers.
Dotcom said he still had the support of the two companies in maintaining files on their respective servers.
U.S. internet rights groups have been fighting to preserve Megaupload files to enable users to try to regain access to content which do not contain illegally downloaded material.
Dotcom's extradition hearing has been pushed back as far as April 2014 as the case has faced multiple delays after a police raid on the flamboyant entrepreneur's mansion was deemed illegal by a New Zealand court. Dotcom is free on bail.
(Editing by Robert Birsel)