Analysis: Dotcom’s clever John Key/tax haven tweet goes viral – but doesn’t stand scrutiny

A Panama Papers tweet by Kim Dotcom has gone viral:

Dotcom posted:

John Key's tax haven defense sounds much like Megaupload: "We are just a service provider. Not responsible for unlawful conduct by users."

NewsTalk ZB’s Andrew Dickens responded, “I’m afraid he does have a point.”

He doesn’t.

Dotcom’s US attorney, Ira Rothken, has argued that Megaupload was just like Dropbox or YouTube or any other service that stores and shares files online – that is, file sharing a neutral technology that can be used for good, or bad.

It’s a variation on the old argument that if thieves rob a bank, then escape by car along State Highway One, the police wouldn’t prosecute NZTA on the basis it manages the road.

But here's the thing: the US Department of Justice isn’t arguing file lockers are bad per se.

On the basis of intercepted Skype conversations, it’s alleging that Dotcom and his co-accused paid cash incentives to people who uploaded infringing files and that (despite statements to the contrary), the Megaupload crew worked with third parties to make pirated content easily discoverable. Dotcom also faces money laundering and racketeering charges. Now, who knows – the department might be over-reaching but it is not simply saying Dotcom should be extradited simply because he operated a cloud storage service that was at times (like rivals) used for piracy.

Dotcom’s appeal against extradition is scheduled for August.

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