The Interview with CEO of MEGA: “Privacy is Business Model”

By Binh Bui’14

Last Thursday, September 19th 2013, Professor Jason Schmitt and GMC students had a great Skype conversation with Vikram Kumar, CEO of MEGA (https://mega.co.nz/) from New Zealand.  Kumar answered many questions from students about internet privacy and business ethics, and also shared his view about the transparency and pushing the limits of the digital frontier.

(Photo Credit: GMC Communication Studies Program)

MEGA, or Mega, Ltd., is one of the cloud storage services founded by Kim Dotcom at the beginning of 2013, one year after the shutdown of Megaupload. Megaupload once commanded up to 4% of the full internet traffic, until dissolving in 2012. MEGA is promised to become of the top competitors of other hosting services, such as Dropbox and Google Drive.  Many people believe that MEGA and Megaupload are the same entity, however, according to Kumar, the new service has major changes in its policies and goals. One of MEGA’s primary goals is to build a much more substantial privacy mode for online users. Offering 50GB free storage, MEGA aims to create a convenient platform for its customers to access their data any time from different electronic devices for collaborative work.  He illustrated the point with the example how architectures are able to share their work with clients and receive feedback online even after a catastrophic event like an earthquake in New Zealand. 

(Vikram Kumar. Photo Credit: From his about.me)

Being asked about what distinguishes MEGA from other competitors, Kumar answered that it is the encryption techniques implemented in the service. When an user upload a file on MEGA cloud, no one, even MEGA, can decrypt and view the content of his or her file. This ensures customer’s privacy while waiving MEGA from its responsibility for the copyright of the content. Kumar pointed out three exceptional cases that the company will directly get involved in people’s data: (1) the file causing damage or threatening people’s life; (2) the file related to pattern or intellectual property infringement; (3) the file related to child exploitation.

 

(MEGA’s Website Screenshot)

Kumar reinforced his view of privacy as defining the difference between “privacy” and “being anonymous online.” Privacy is “the ability to control personal data,” and it is completely different from being anonymous online. “It’s almost impossible to be anonymous online now,” said Kumar. For the final comment, he advised college students to have a clear understanding of the internet characteristics and take advantages of it for study and work.

The talk received a lot of favor from students. Commenting about the talk, Forrest T. said that “It was amazing being able to communicate with such a prominent figure in the digital media. I loved his explanation on how MEGA differs from the previous Megaupload and how they are now cooperating with the government and will comply with the laws but not complacent.” Kyra H. agreed with Forrest and said “I think he is a very good speaker and a very intelligent man; it is a very interesting talk!” My Linh brought up another point: “It is time to rethink how we use the Internet and Internet privacy. Vikram Kumar made an excellent point about the difference between privacy and anonymous on the internet.”

(Photo Credit: GMC Communication Studies Program)

Professor Jason Schmitt, who took time to reach out and organized this talk, also commented that “I think he [Kumar] is extremely point in a true CEO way and has a large scale vision.  It’s a very eloquent talk!”

 

 


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