Kim Dotcom, the Internet entrepreneur, has just announced the release of an encrypted chat service, called MegaChat. The service is to compete with the widely used and Microsoft-owned, Skype. The new features will be rolled out gradually, with the initial services starting off with video-calling, Dotcom said.
This news has come after it has emerged that the EU counter-terrorism coordinator wants all companies to be required by law to hand over encryption keys when asked for them. The senior EU Official’s proposal follows on from a similar call by UK Prime Minister David Cameron.
Gilles de Kerchove said, in a document leaked by the civil liberties group Statewatch,that encryption “increasingly makes lawful interception by the relevant national authorities technically difficult or even impossible…the [European] Commission should be invited to explore rules obliging internet and telecommunications companies operating in the EU to provide, under certain conditions as set out in the relevant national laws and in full compliance with fundamental rights, access of the relevant national authorities to communications (ie share encryption keys).” De Kerchove has refused to comment on the leaked document.
Mr Cameron said, earlier this month that he wanted Internet companies to allow access by the government to view encrypted messages. This was in order to assist the security services in their roles. Cameron’s plans to revive the Communications Data Bill, nicknamed the “snoopers’ charter”, were heavily criticised by civil liberties groups and also by Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister.
With the announcement of the launch of the Beta version of the MegaChat service, Dotcom said that video-calling would gradually be followed by a text-chat service and then video-conferencing would follow that.
Dotcom announced the launch of MegaChat on social networking website, Twitter. The Internet entrepreneur mentioned the timeline, which lead from the raid to the announcement on Thursday. He also highlighted the launch of his newest site, Mega and also a political party in the subsequent years.
Dotcom wrote, “#Mega offers a security bounty again. Please report any security flaw to us. We’ll fix it and reward you. Thanks for helping.”
It was approximately three years ago that Kim Dotcom’s Megaupload site was seized by authorities and he was arrested in an armed raid on his house in New Zealand. He still faces extradition from New Zealand to the United States on copyright infringement charges and in November of 2014, he said he was “broke” as a result of the resulting legal battle which ensued. Dotcom put the cost at $10m (£6.4m) since his arrest back in 2012.
[Image via wikipedia]