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Dotcom passwords must not be shared with the Feds, says judge

By | Published on Thursday 3 July 2014

Kim Schmitz

A judge in New Zealand has ruled that if Kim Dotcom shares passwords with police in the country, so they can access encrypted files on computers they seized from the MegaUpload founder in 2012, they are forbidden from sharing the codes with the US authorities.

Files on the hard disks seized from Dotcom as part of the Mega shutdown in January 2012 have been the subject of quite a bit of backwards and forwards in legal terms. Dotcom’s people want access to the seized files to help prepare his defence, meanwhile investigators in New Zealand want to be able to open the encrypted documents.

Dotcom said he’d provide the passwords if he got access to the files himself, though later added that he wasn’t certain he remembered the codes, but would likely be able to work them out if he had access to the data.

The whole thing has been moving towards some kind of compromise, except that New Zealand officials said that if they got the passwords off Dotcom they’d want to pass them onto the FBI in the US, who also have copies of the seized computer files as part of their criminal investigation into the old MegaUpload business.

Team Mega opposed the sharing of the passwords with the Feds, not least because a New Zealand court had already ruled that investigators there should never have let the Americans take copies of the seized digital data back to the States in the first place.

And yesterday a judge back the Mega men on this issue, ruling that if and when police do get the passwords they want in New Zealand, there’ll be no passing of that information over to the FBI. Though Dotcom himself admitted on Twitter that he expects the Feds have already hacked their way into any encrypted documents anyway.

As much previously reported, the Americans are still trying to extradite Dotcom and some of his ex-MegaUpload colleagues to face criminal charges of copyright infringement and money laundering in relation to the now defunct file-transfer and video sharing business.