UPDATE: McKernan's MEGA account restored, minus NZ Covid vax data
Steve Kirsch's Wasabi account remains deactivated
After nuking US-based scientist Kevin McKernan’s account following an injunction order from the New Zealand (NZ) Ministry of Health (MOH) earlier this week, file storage service MEGA has walked back its initially heavy-handed response.
On Wednesday evening 6 December, Boston time, McKernan received an email advising that his account had been restored, minus a data file containing anonymised NZ public health data, which was targeted under the injunction.
An email from MEGA’s support team confirms that the injunction order was the trigger for McKernan’s account deletion.
From MEGA Support,
“We were provided an injunction order and alerted to the fact that your account contained and was making available (by way of public link) material in breach of cl 17.8.1 of our Terms of Service.
“Mega has zero tolerance for such conduct and our standard initial response is immediate account suspension. We have now removed the offending files from your cloud drive and unsuspended your account.
”Please be aware that any further breaches of our Terms of Service may result in the permanent termination of your account in accordance with cl 35.1 of those Terms.”
In a ‘shoot first, ask questions later’ scenario, McKernan woke on Monday 4 December to find his entire MEGA account had been deleted, along with an estimated USD $200,000 worth of research data including medical genome sequencing and vaccine sequencing data. Some of the files related to court proceedings in multiple countries.
McKernan had been hosting a file which contained leaked NZ public health records from a Covid vaccine ‘pay per dose’ database. These records were supplied to US Substacker Steve Kirsch, who ‘obfuscated’ the data, removing any personal identifying information, and created a new, anonymised data file, which he made publicly available. This is the file that McKernan mirrored on his MEGA account, and which was targeted under the NZ Health (also called Te Whatu Ora) injunction.
At the time of McKernan’s account deletion, MEGA cited a “gross violation” of its terms and conditions, but did not specify the nature of the violation. The injunction was granted on Friday 1 December but was not made publicly accessible until 6pm Tuesday 5 December, NZ time, the day after McKernan’s account was deleted.
Kirsch’s file hosting account with Wasabi was also disabled, on 2 December. At the time of writing, Kirsch’s account remained deactivated.
MEGA has restored all of McKernan’s data except for the mirrored Kirsch file containing NZ public health records, stating that this file is in “material in breach of cl 17.8.1 of our Terms of Service.”
Cyber privacy expert Ehden Biber questions whether this data file really is in breach of MEGA’s terms. Additionally, Voices For Freedom NZ Head of Legal, Katie Ashby-Koppens, suggests the Employment Regulation Authority, which granted the injunction, has “acted outside its remit” and therefore does not have the power to make such orders against third parties or in other jurisdictions.
Nevertheless, at least on the matter of MEGA returning his intellectual property, “rationality has prevailed,” says McKernan.
McKernan particularly expressed thanks to Ashby-Koppens and Biber for their efforts in “spelling out the boundaries of the law and T&Cs,” emphasising that he “posted this data before any injunction was public.”
McKernan credits MEGA for “reconsidering the nuance of this complicated public health transparency issue and finding a middle ground. Most other providers would have never returned an email.” He intends to keep using the service, stating that his data will “remain there to preserve the link addresses.”
As for NZ Health, McKernan, who previously managed R&D for the Human Genome Project at Whitehead Institute/MIT, has some sharp words to offer.
“We are from different planets,” he says. “On the human genome project we put anonymized sequencing data public every 24 hours to ensure the scientific field was fully synchronized. This was known as the Bermuda Accord.”
“These liability-free vaccines were mandated. The patient data collection was mandatory (no opt out). This is such an enormous breach of bioethics.
“You don’t get to then lecture the rest of the world on the bioethics of anonymized vax data that you admit has no patient identifiable data in it. This data frankly should have been public every 24 hours throughout the pandemic.”
Indeed, the speed and severity with which NZ Health rushed to conceal the leaked data and arrest the former employee who leaked it, 56-year-old database administrator Barry Young, has raised more than a few eyebrows.
After obtaining an urgent injunction last week, NZ Health officials and politicians gave a series of statements to the NZ press decrying the “devastating breach of trust,” assuring that they were “continuing to scan the internet and media for any further appearance of the data,” and warning of the dangers of “misinformation” and “conspiracy theories.”
Young was immediately arrested and charged with “accessing a computer system for dishonest purposes” before being released on bail on Tuesday 5 December. In an interview discussing the arrest, Young said eight armed officers were sent in unmarked cars to raid his house and make the arrest, a scene that he described as “heavy-handed” and irregular.
Young stressed that the data belongs to the people of NZ, and that he believes that they should be able to see it.
McKernan is of the same view, once again directing his comments directly to the NZ MOH,
"The world has taken notice that you, being a tax-funded organization, have less data transparency than private companies sequencing medicinal organisms. Your desire to keep data secret actually took down the private company generously providing genomes to the scientific community.”
“I would encourage you to give transparency a try given your funding sources.”
Perhaps NZ Health will give transparency a try.
Then again, this is the same organisation that secretly issued 11,005 Covid vaccine exemptions to its own staff at a time when many New Zealanders were threatened with job loss if they didn’t take their mandated jabs.
Can this leopard to change its spots?
UPDATE: Ministry of Health, or Ministry of Truth? Friend of DDU, Milkbar TV, has nailed it once again. Watch one minute of sheer hypocrisy below, if you can stand it…
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