A defense lawyer for embattled cloud storage service Mega told New Zealand’s High Court on Tuesday that an order to supply user information to Kazakhstan could endanger people with no involvement in the case of a leak of Kazakh government documents in 2014.
The government of Kazakhstan has demanded the personal information of Mega users who stored data relating to the hack, and a New Zealand court ordered the company to comply, but in an appeal the company’s lawyers say people who simply saved news articles will be swept up in a broad search carried out by a regime with “a terrible civil rights record,” Radio New Zealand reports.
Sensitive government documents and emails were stolen from Kazakhstan’s government in the hack, and subsequently reported by the Kazakh news website Respublika. The Kazakhstan government of President Nursultan Nazarbayev responded by filing a Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) suit against 100 “John Does,” and then setting out to determine their identities.
Respublika was represented in California court by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) after Kazakhstan subpoenaed information from Facebook in November 2015.
“Given Kazakhstan’s history of harassing, threatening, and arresting independent journalists, keeping this information out of the government’s hands is important for ensuring the safety of those affiliated with Respublika,” Jamie Williams of the EFF wrote when the California court quashed the subpoena in March.
Mega says it will hand over the identifying information for the hackers themselves, but that possession of published material from the leak does not indicate involvement, and that it would not supply information for all of the users whose data was requested.
Kazakhstan’s lawyer in New Zealand argues that those with stolen material which is not available from the internet through “casually browsing,” and is stored on the service, likely worked with the hackers.
Mega argues that even having special access to the material does not imply any illegal activity, and compares the situation to a book by a New Zealand author called Dirty Politics, which was based on stolen emails.
In a bizarre twist, the EFF also reports that the editors of Respublika, other political opponents of the country’s ruling regime, and lawyers representing them have been targeted by a phishing and malware campaign linked to the government of Kazakhstan.
Founder Kim Dotcom broke from Mega in 2014, and has repeatedly criticized the service since.