The US government is facing criticism from user advocacy groups over the way it is handling data seized from file-sharing service Megaupload.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has filed a complaint against the government requesting the return of user data stored on servers the government took control of when it shut down Megaupload.
The complaint, filed on behalf of user Kyle Goodwin, alleges that the government has failed to properly distinguish content that infringes upon copyright laws from original and non-infringing data that users have stored on the site.
The EFF also accuses the government of viewing data it collected in the seizure for the purpose of determining whether to take legal action against users. In doing so, the foundation said that the government is misusing data it originally collected under the guise of a legal action against Megaupload alone.
"This is, of course, a bald attempt to shift the focus to Mr Goodwin, trying to distract both the press and the court from the government's failure to take any steps, much less the reasonable steps required by law, to protect the property rights of third parties either before a warrant was executed or afterward," the EFF said.
"And of course, if the government is so well positioned that it can search through Mr Goodwin's files and opine on their content—and it is not at all clear that this second search was authorised—presumably it can also find a way to return them."
Authorities in the US and New Zealand have come under attack for their handling of the Megaupload takedown and the prosecution of its founder, Kim Dotcom. Earlier this month, Dotcom's lawyer argued that the takedown of the site was conducted illegally.
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