Kim Dotcom's Mega: Political activism or self-promotion?

Virginia Crisp

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There are a range of activist and political groups whose major concern is defending online privacy and Internet freedom. An instructive example within this movement is Kim Dotcom, the erstwhile head of defunct sharing site Megaupload, who presents his own interests as aligned with these organizations in a bid to promote both himself and his company. The MPAA claims that Dotcom is a thief who has profited directly from piracy, a charge he contests by claiming that through the raid of his house in January 2012 and the seizure of the Megaupload servers, his privacy has been invaded and his assets -- and those of his subscribers -- stolen. In January 2013, with a high profile theatrical event that included a re-enactment of the raid on his New Zealand mansion, Dotcom launched the successor to Megaupload, Mega. Mega, a cloud sharing platform, has one defining difference to Megaupload because through their User Controlled Encryption (UCE) system no one at Mega (or their audaciously titled parent company, The Privacy Company) can see or access the files that are hosted within their system. This is presented as a tactic to protect the consumer's privacy but it has the associated benefit of distancing Dotcom and his partners from the responsibility for exactly what is hosted on their servers. This paper makes the argument that through the company name, the launch event, the company website, Dotcom's personal website and his personal twitter feed, Dotcom repeatedly references privacy and freedom of speech so as to align his personal concerns with those of a wider political movement. It argues that this is merely a rhetorical strategy that legitimizes his actions, protects him from further legislation and encourages consumers that simply signing up to Mega is a form of political activism.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2013
EventMedia in Transition 8: public media, private media - MIT, Boston, United States
Duration: 3 May 20135 May 2013


ConferenceMedia in Transition 8
Country/TerritoryUnited States
City Boston


  • micro-celebrity
  • self-promotion
  • digital piracy
  • the privacy company
  • Kim Dotcom
  • Mega
  • Megaupload


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