Today’s Tech January 25, 2012

Shutdown of one of largest websites previews what may be to come

The United States Justice Department shut down Megaupload and its sister websites last Thursday, removing a website that receives fifty million daily visitors and accounts for 4 percent of all traffic on the Internet.

Megaupload, a site notorious for its pirated material, is also used for legitimate uses such as business and individuals to share large files too big for email.

The shutdown was due to a 72-page indictment by the Justice Department against the Hong Kong based company (which they refer to as the “Mega Conspiracy”), which included the arrest of Dutch citizen and founder Kim Schmitz in New Zealand for crimes in the US. The reason the US had jurisdiction was because Megaupload had leased a few servers in Virginia, even though they are mainly an international business.

The timing of such attacks came right after the SOPA/PIPA blackout protests on Jan. 19. The Internet group Anonymous, based out of the website 4chan, retaliated in their own way by organizing DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks on over a dozen websites including the FBI, Justice Department, and several music and movie industry companies, causing them to go offline temporarily.

Although the website had malicious intent, the government takedown may be a sign of things to come with more control over what used to be the free exchange of information called the Internet.