Megaupload maestro Kim Dotcom says he will soon unveil an encrypted video calling and chat service that he claims will mark "the end of NSA mass surveillance."
In a series of tweets, Dotcom said the service, to be called MegaChat, will also doom Skype, the current king of online calling, which is thought to have been cooperating with US government snoops since at least 2011.
"No US based online service provider can be trusted with your data," the rotund refugee proclaimed. "Skype has no choice. They must provide the US Government with backdoors."
Dotcom said MegaChat will be browser-based – preempting Microsoft's plan to bake Skype into IE – and will also include the ability to conduct high-speed file transfers with end-to-end encryption.
One small problem with all of this: Dotcom launched the Mega file-sharing service in early 2013 with similar claims that it offered impenetrable browser-based encryption. But it only took a few days for security researcher Steve "Sc00bzt" Thomas to come up with a tool to steal passwords from encrypted Mega confirmation links, and no less than crypto expert Moxie Marlinspike called Mega's approach to security "inept."
Dotcom shot back at such criticisms, saying Mega's crypto remained unbroken and offering a bounty for anyone who could break it. But Sc00bz and others have dismissed that boast, saying it would be easy for Mega to provide an "unbreakable" account with a long, random password, but it wouldn't prove that real-world Mega accounts can't be hacked or spied on.
No US based online service provider can be trusted with your data. Skype has no choice. They must provide the US Government with backdoors.— Kim Dotcom (@KimDotcom) December 29, 2014
The debate over Mega's crypto aside, there's also the issue of Dotcom's ability to execute. Previous post-Megaupload ventures – including the music services Megabox and Baboom, his promise to bring dedicated fibre internet to New Zealand, and his bid for political office – haven't yielded much fruit. We haven't heard much about Dotcom's plans to take Mega public lately, either.
And then there's Dotcom himself, who said in November that he's "officially broke" from his protracted battle to avoid extradition to the US on conspiracy, money laundering, and copyright infringement charges.
But secure communications appear to be all the rage in the wake of the Snowden revelations, so it's always possible that MegaChat could be Dotcom's next opportunity to strike gold.
Dotcom tweeted on Monday that he would explain how to get an invite to the MegaChat beta program "in the coming weeks." ®