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Kim Dotcom launches new file-sharing site

A German-born New Zealand-based Internet entrepreneur who is fighting extradition to the US has launched a new file-sharing site. The move came exactly a year after his Megaupload site was shut down by the authorities.

Kim Dotcom announced the launch of his new website via his account on the microblogging site Twitter, claiming that there had been "100,000 registered users in less than 1 hour. Fastest growing start-up in Internet history?"

He later tweeted that the site had received "250,000 user registrations. Server capacity on maximum load. Should get better when initial frenzy is over. Wow!!!"

One year ago, Dotcom's previous file-sharing service had been shut down in a raid on his home outside of Auckland after US authorities filed a series of charges against him, including money laundering, racketeering and copyright theft. Since then, he has since been fighting possible extradition to the United States. His next hearing is due in March.

US authorities allege that Megaupload took in more than $175 million (131 million euros) in illegal funds and cost the copyright holders more than $500 million in lost royalties by offering pirated copies of movies, music and other content for free.

Dotcom, who was born Kim Schmitz in the northern German city of Kiel, said the new site was designed to avoid the legal trouble that Megaupload had run into.

"The nature of this service is people uploading something, storing it in the cloud and making it available to others to download, is protected by the law," Dotcom said.

His partner in the new operation and co-defendant against charges related to Megaupload, Finn Batato, said state-of-the-art encryption would ensure that only users, not the site's adminstrators, would know what was being uploaded.

"The new encryption means full privacy," Batato said. "Piracy will not be tolerated. We will have strong terms and conditions in place and we will comply with all relevant laws."

He said the encryption feature would also prevent governments from snooping on the site's users.

The 38-year-old Dotcom also holds Finnish citizenship and is a permanent resident of New Zealand.

pfd/ (AFP, dpa)