Megaupload's Dotcom allowed to seek damages against NZ spy agency

New Zealand's Government Communications Security Bureau illegally spied on Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom

New Zealand's High Court ruled Wednesday that Kim Dotcom and a Megaupload colleague can pursue damages against police and one of the country's spy services for illegally intercepting their communications.

In her judgment, Justice Helen Winkelmann also added the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) as a defendant in the case, ordering the agency to turn over some details of the agency's surveillance with respect to national security concerns. Another hearing is planned for next week.

New Zealand's government admitted it illegally spied on Dotcom and Bram van der Kolk prior to a January raid on Dotcom's mansion that coincided with the shutdown of their Megaupload file-sharing service.

Dotcom, van der Kolk and five others were indicted in January by a grand jury in U.S. District Court in Virginia for running Megaupload, which prosecutors alleged rewarded users for trading files without permission of copyright holders, netting the site US$175 million in criminal proceeds.

Dotcom, who holds Finnish and German passports, and van der Kolk are permanent residents of New Zealand, which under the country's law means the GCSB is not allowed to intercept their communications. The GCSB's spying occurred between Dec. 16 and Jan. 20, the day Dotcom's mansion outside Auckland was raided.

According to Wednesday's judgment, Dotcom believes the surveillance may have started as early as November 2011. He is also seeking to find out whether the GCSB shared information with members of the Echelon/Five Eyes, a signal intelligence system run by the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

A representative for New Zealand's attorney general's office has argued that further disclosures "would compromise New Zealand's national security interests, as it would reveal information-sharing protocols and practices with intelligence allies," Winkelmann wrote.

She ruled that most of the information Dotcom and van der Kolk want is relevant, but it does not preclude the GCSB "from claiming public interest confidentiality."

A law enforcement agency, Organised and Financial Crime Agency New Zealand (OFCANZ), sought the assistance of the GCSB prior to the raid on Dotcom's mansion. Further complicating the case, Winkelmann ruled in June that the raid on Dotcom's mansion was illegal because it was based on overly broad search warrants.

In the U.S., Megaupload is trying to get part of its criminal case dismissed, arguing that its headquarters, located in Hong Kong, were not properly served with a criminal summons. U.S. federal criminal procedures dictate that a summons can only be served within the U.S.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags copyrightlegalintellectual propertymegaupload

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?