Anything you Skype may be taken down and used against you in a court of law.
Big Brother and Five Eyes were the unseen forces at work in a hot courtroom in downtown Federal St yesterday when the Crown presented its opening address in the extradition hearing of Kim Dotcom and his band of Euro-geeks.
The United States wants to haul Dotcom and his former executives in the so-called "Mega Conspiracy" - Mathias Ortmann, Bram van der Kolk and Finn Batato - to East Virginia to stand trial on money-laundering and copyright violation charges.
First, they need to establish there's a prima facie case.
And so to an upstairs courtroom in the Chorus building, packed with ladies and gentlemen from the media, lawyers in bad suits, and members of the public, including the homeless man who keeps falling asleep.
Christine Gordon, QC, led for the Crown. She had no lack of material. FBI agents accessed millions of emails between the four accused; Gordon shared some of the juicier exchanges.
She prefaced the juicy fruits of the surveillance effort by saying the case could be reduced to a single sentence.
It was a very long sentence and it had far too many commas in it. The homeless man fell asleep long before she droned to the end of the sentence; his hands with their scraped knuckles hung between his knees, and he bowed his head.
An edited version of Gordon's verbose sentence: "This was a conspiracy to make vast sums of money knowing it was unlawfully acquired."
Sample dialogue, between van der Kolk and Ortmann, via Skype, on September 4, 2008: "We're the pirates here," comments van der Kolk.
Ortmann responds, "You can see it this way."
More pirate talk on March 14, 2008, via Skype: "We are in a strange business," comments Ortmann. Van der Kolk responds, "Yes indeed ... modern-day pirates."
What's with the "indeed"? Is it the way Germans talk in English? The pair used it all the time in their Skype chats - "That's a lot of money indeed", "Dangerous move indeed", "Kim-style indeed".
The grubbiness of the eavesdropping was reminiscent of the last time Dotcom appeared in public - at last year's election campaign, during his memorably cracked Moment of Truth rally at the Auckland Town Hall, when he summonsed video-link appearances by Julian Assange and Edward Snowden. Their theme was US surveillance.
The extent of it, they said, was epic and outrageous. Assange and Snowden have become enemies of the state, forced into hiding or exile.
Dotcom invited comparisons with his own case. The parallels were evident. The US wanted to bust his ass, too.
But Assange and Snowden were involved in the release of classified information.
Dotcom was merely involved in the release of Battlestar Galactica and whatever else anyone wanted to download from his Mega business. He made a lot of money from it.
How much money? Gordon estimated that advertising revenue was $25 million, but subscribers and other users gave the business $150 million.
Van der Kolk to Ortmann, on October 7, 2007, via Skype: "This cannot last forever I think."