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MegaUpload data could be erased Thursday, says report

With MegaUpload's assets frozen--and no way for it to pay the storage firms it used--and with the feds unable to further access servers now that search warrants have been executed, data could begin getting wiped, says the Associated Press.

Data from MegaUpload could be erased as early as this Thursday, a report says--a disturbing prospect for those who might have used the recently shut-down cyberlocker for legitimate purposes such as backing up business files.

The Associated Press reports that in a letter filed last Friday in the MegaUpload piracy case, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia said Carpathia Hosting and Cogent Communications Group--companies MegaUpload hired to store data--may begin deleting that data come Thursday.

MegaUpload's assets have been seized by the government, and its bank accounts have been frozen, Hence, MegaUpload can no longer pay companies like Carpathia and Cogent for their services, the AP reports.

The government said law enforcement officials had copied some data from servers but hadn't physically taken the servers--and that now that the original search warrants have been executed, the remaining data cannot be legally accessed.

In what some have called one of the largest criminal copyright cases ever brought by the U.S., MegaUpload was yanked offline January 19 and its founder and several of his associates were arrested and charged with crimes related to online piracy.

Many millions of people worldwide have allegedly used MegaUpload's cyberlocker service to store and access unauthorized copies of TV shows, feature films, songs, porn, and software. But some customers used MegaUpload for above-board practices like sharing large (and legal) files and backing up legitimate files.

Some of those users have been expressing outrage over the government's takedown. A CNET reader with the screen name humanssssss, for example, had the following to say in response to an article about a MegaUpload lawyer's statements regarding the case:

Millions of people have their work and personal files on MegaUpload and depend on MegaUpload to provide service for them to make money to feed their family. One or two people in government decide the faith and livelihood of millions of families. This is immoral, unethical, and downright barbaric.

MegaUpload attorney Ira Rothken told the AP that at least 50 million MegaUpload users have data that could be deleted, and that the company is working with prosecutors to try to prevent the data from being vaporized.

"We're cautiously optimistic at this point that--because the United States, as well as MegaUpload, should have a common desire to protect consumers--this type of agreement will get done," Rothken told the AP. He also said the threatened data could be important for MegaUpload's defense.

The AP said representatives of Carpathia and Cogent, as well as of the U.S. Attorney's Office, had not answered a request for comment.