Inbox: Letter to the editor, Mega unconvinced

Dear editor
I just finished reading your article on Mega (see “Mega trouble or Mega opportunity?”, NZ Management, April 2013) which I enjoyed and while acknowledging your position I found myself more than little concerned at number of assumptions you appear to be accepting as fact and the outcomes that flow from these assumptions which you appear to embrace as being positive and good for NZ.
First up the very naive view that Dotcom came to NZ because of its “benign environment to establish his family base, raise his kids, and run his business from” and that in spite of everything he is “still prepared to give NZ and New Zealanders another shot”.
While perhaps our benign environment was indeed factor, Dotcom came to NZ because he calculated that his business was more likely to be able to operate “under the radar” in NZ than just about anywhere else and of course with convictions against him his choices were rather limited – your view, which certainly is shared by many after the deluge of PR that we have been fed, that we should be grateful for him choosing to come to NZ is not view that I support or in my opinion backed up in any way by the facts of his actual situation.
He lived virtually unnoticed here for many years making an obscene amount of money from what was clearly questionable business model and apart from attempting to curry favour with various political and business heavyweights for his own selfish reasons made virtually no meaningful contribution to the country – conveniently we are now supposed to believe that they “had plans” to support technology education, the skilled workforce and help power business growth which were derailed by the events of January 2012.
Call me cynical, but in my opinion after doing absolutely zero for NZ prior to his arrest the avalanche of “proposed” activities – many are likely never to realistically ever be possible – he now promotes as being how he can assist NZ are nothing more than PR promises that most of the media accepts but in reality are no more than very skilful attempt to gain support for himself in an attempt to avoid extradition.
The cost to the average New Zealander as Dotcom fights extradition will come to tens of millions and on top of that he has been quite happy to break his promise to not cost New Zealanders money by commencing legal action against the Government, which obviously if successful will cost even more millions which of course the average New Zealander ultimately funds.
Rather than bringing anything positive to NZ, Dotcom quite clearly used us initially as safe haven from which he could make mega bucks and now that he has been exposed he continues to use us – albeit in different way – to help fight his battle against extradition.
If he and the Mega team are as they say “not criminals who come from good families” and their business is legal then why not front the charges against them and establish that this is the case – hiding in NZ and pretending they are something that clearly they are not certainly doesn’t impress me and contrary to the view your article suggests, I think as people see through the PR, more and more would be very happy to see the back of Dotcom.
Gordon Frykberg
MD, OGGI Digital

NZ Management responds
NZ Management magazine is happy to have the issues debated in an open forum. Our responses to Gordon Frykberg’s key points are as follows:
• Mega’s ‘PR’ campaign: We agree that Dotcom in particular is good at raising media awareness and interest although we are unaware of any concerted ‘campaign’ to date. NZ Management magazine sought an interview with the Mega team in order to get more information about their business model and plans – information that had been lacking in other media.
• Mega’s ‘clearly questionable’ business model: This assertion has yet to be tested in court. Response from the Mega team is that they would be happy to defend this in court but for their distrust of how they would be treated at the hands of the US authorities. Pressure to close down MegaUpload originated from vested interests in the US – MPAA in particular – that are the losers in the democratisation of access to content, because it threatened their monopolistic activities and revenue stream. In fact the only thing that has been agreed upon by the courts thus far is that the GCSB spying on Dotcom was unlawful.
• Mega’s “proposed activities”: As far as we’re aware we’re the only publication that’s published any ‘proposed activities’ that could benefit NZ. They came out of our questioning on the basis that the Mega team had superior skills and abilities – proven by the establishment of two world-class rapidly up-scaled businesses – that NZ did not have without them.
• The cost of legal action to New Zealanders: The MegaUpload team cannot be expected not to defend themselves. We’re not sure that anyone would willingly hand themselves over to the US with its recent history of treatment of prisoners who disagree with US policy. In the meantime Dotcom’s and MegaUpload’s assets – including the data belonging to MegaUpload’s customers – are frozen or being rifled through by the US authorities.
• If their business is legal then why not front the charges: Nobody in their right mind given recent history would willingly hand themselves over to the US authorities. Dotcom and his family’s treatment at the hands of the NZ authorities was bad enough: his pregnant wife and young children traumatised by gung-ho armed raid; Dotcom locked up with no medical treatment or facilities to deal with severe pain. At worst – even if convicted – Dotcom & MegaUpload were guilty of white-collar crime not gun-running or people smuggling. This is NZ we’re talking about – not Soviet Russia during the Cold War.
• As people see through the PR, more would be very happy to see the back of Dotcom: In the poll on NZ Management’s website – which people have been driven to only by NZ Management magazine and its enewsletter – which we can fairly assume has been taken by NZ Management readers, ie mainly corporate executives, the current totals are 162:3 in favour of Dotcom staying in NZ and being embraced by the business community. M

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