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German of the Week
'I am not a bad person'
Photo: DPA

'I am not a bad person'

Published: 24 Jan 2013 06:17 GMT+01:00
Updated: 24 Jan 2013 06:17 GMT+01:00

He's a hacker, a gamer, a party animal, a legal resident of New Zealand, and a self-proclaimed defender of internet freedom. Kim Schmitz, aka Kim Dotcom, is The Local's German of the week.

Calling himself Kim Schmitz, Kim Dotcom, or sometimes just Kimble, the 39-year-old has become the unlikely poster boy of the internet freedom movement. He's also one of the world's most recognizable Germans in the past year. That's partly because he is two meters (6ft 6ins) tall and weighs more than 130 kilos (285 pounds), and partly because he likes being photographed on private jets or yachts with Playboy bunnies.

His other well-documented predilections include gaming (he was until recently the world's top ranked Modern Warfare 3 player), road-rallying, and personalized number plates on his Rolls Royces and Lamborghinis that read things like "God" and "CEO."

On Sunday, the file-sharing mogul celebrated his latest launch - the follow-up to the legally problematic Megaupload site, named simply Mega - at his base in New Zealand. The launch of mega.co.nz was a typically brash affair, with an event part press conference, part fanfare show complete with showgirls.

Schmitz claimed that the new website - a cloud storage platform with encryption to ensure only users, not site administrators, know what is being uploaded - was the "fastest growing start-up in internet history," with 100,000 users registering within an hour of launch.

But the site's start was not smooth - on Tuesday, Schmitz had to apologize for Mega's teething troubles, or, as he put it, "the bad quality of the service."

His arrest by New Zealand police last January - at the behest of US authorities seeking his extradition on copyright infringement charges - was not Schmitz's first brush with the law. Born in the northern German town of Kiel in 1974, Schmitz burst into the limelight in the 1990s, when he claimed he'd bypassed the security at NASA, the Pentagon and Citibank under his hacker pseudonym "Kimble."

He was finally arrested in 1994 for trafficking stolen phone card numbers, and eventually served a two-year suspended sentence for computer fraud and data espionage.

Though the judge dismissed that crime as "youthful foolishness," the German authorities were less forgiving about accusations of insider trading when he reportedly made a $1.5 million profit by buying up shares on a nearly bankrupt internet start-up, announcing he would invest heavily, and then selling them.

He fled to Thailand, was arrested, deported, received only a suspended sentence, then left Germany once again to live in Hong Kong.

There, he set up Kimpire Limited, and a network of related companies, including a hedge fund that fell foul of the Hong Kong authorities, and cost Schmitz a fine of 8,000 Hong Kong dollars.

In 2010, Schmitz was granted residency in New Zealand, with the authorities choosing to ignore his foreign convictions because he promised to invest more than $10 million in the country, via investment, philanthropic donations, and his gargantuan personal consumption.

In the meantime, the internet mogul had set up Megaupload, a cloud storage and file-sharing platform where millions of registered users kept copies of TV shows, movies, porn, and software. It was massively successful - at its height, the site was reported to be the 13th most popular website in the world and responsible for four percent of internet traffic.

Then last year, it all came crashing down with a big belly-flop. In an article written for the file-sharing blog TorrentFreak in 2011, Schmitz defended his reputation. "Steve Jobs was a hacker and Martha Stuart is doing well after her insider trading case. I think over a decade after all of this happened it should NOT be the dominating topic. I am 37 years old now, I am married, I have three adorable children with two more on the way (twin girls – yeah) and I know that I am not a bad person."

The Local/bk

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

10:00 January 24, 2013 by Anny One again
If would be a writer for James Bond Stories,I would keep an eye on him.

Relative young,two meters (6ft 6ins) tall and weighs more than 130 kilos (285 pounds) with a Babyface.He could be the grand son of Auric Goldfinger (Gerd Froebe)

No Mr Bond i expect you to die !

I assume in 10 years New Zealand get a new name like " New Mega Zealand"

or "New Dotcom"and everybody is wearing orange jumpsuits on this Island,

armend,very serious looking wihout speaking to any one,and drive busy in Golf caddies.Everyone is on a mission.North Korea had his Kim il sung and

New Zealand has Kim Schmitz,the evil Mega Baby.
11:23 January 24, 2013 by raandy
Well, well, now I understand he is a victim of the liberal German legal system.

They were concerned,however that they missed put on all that tax money.
11:36 January 24, 2013 by yllusion
He's not a bad person? Bad people aren't only those who commit homicides, but all who try to take advantage from others by any mean. Sorry, this guy may be popular and economically successful, but he's another criminal like many others who enjoy the feeling of invading someone's property, stealing information and money, only to feel powerful, to feel in control, to be on top. This is simply another type of white collar crime and the problem is rooted in their egos. Hackers are no more than thieves and mercenaries disguised under the flag of freedom and safety concerns. Ironically, if those hackers weren't interested in breaking into someone's system, there wouldn't be such need for protection and fancy cryptography algorithms.

File sharing. We all have the right of file sharing, but many use this argument of freedom to create systems that allow piracy on purpose. Sure, the media companies and software giants earn a lot of money on our expense and this should be fought. But this war shouldn't be a reason to allow cyber crime and turn those cyber mercenaries into celebrities. We shouldn't distort right and wrong.

We must stop with the bullshit and start putting hackers in jail and teach those guys since young age what is WRONG.
06:28 January 25, 2013 by Enough
Reminds me of a human Jabba tht Hut.
14:23 January 25, 2013 by Mr.Ed
I'm not a bad person...I just like to eat a lot. The FBI wanted to aprehend all those gazillion files on my website...so i ate them all!! That'll show them!
19:20 January 26, 2013 by cosmo101
He looks like the Pillsbury Dough-Boy.
15:01 January 27, 2013 by hanskarl
I would like to say more like the Michelin man............ I just hate to give Michelin a bad name.
15:03 January 30, 2013 by Vargaz
Kim is nothing less than a thief, a cheat, a liar, and a scumbag. He will continue to antagonize the Americans who have no sense of humor until one day they simply kill him. That's how they do things. Right Herr Bin Laden?
13:35 February 2, 2013 by Louie
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
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