File storage site Mega has been ordered to hand over IP address information to the Kazakhstan Government that could identify a user alleged to have uploaded more than 100,000 stolen documents to the service.
Hackers allegedly popped Kazakhstan networks last year, allegedly uploading the stolen documents to Mega's servers between August 2014 and April 2015.
Links to the downloadable files were posted on website Kazaword.
Kazakh Government lawyer Daniel Kalderimis filed an order successfully requesting the High Court in Auckland to issue a subpoena requiring Mega to present documents and details on user accounts.
Human Rights Watch says Kazakhstan "heavily restricts freedom of assembly, speech, and religion" noting that in 2014 the state shuttered newspapers, jailed peaceful protesters, and fined worshipers of non-state religion.
Justice Simon Moore said the need to disclose "outweighs the public interest in preventing harm to the hackers" or Mega.
Mega has been contacted for comment. Chairman Stephen Hall told Stuff NZ it was disappointed at the decision.
Even with the account information Kazakhstan may not have the smoking gun evidence it needs against its targeted user; tech-savvy hackers and activists would commit a serious blunder should they have uploaded the alleged stolen documents to Mega without using at least one log-less belligerent virtual private network, or the Tor network.
That could mean the Kazakhstan Government would need to pursue many more avenues should it hope to get closer to its target.
While the cyberlocker lost the case, it was not required to foot the bill for the production of the sought account information.
It is a particularly sharp loss for the firm which bills itself as a privacy-conscious file host.
Mega's sales pitch is seated as much in its widespread use of encryption and inability for any party but the user to decrypt passwords as its rather large 50GB free account storage capacity. ®