TorrentFreak points to reports that suggest dramatic drops in speed for free users, sometimes down to 30/kbs.
While some RapidShare users suspected that this was done to drive customers to use the site's premium service, a statement released by the website claims that it is actually a method to drive away pirates that may have jumped ship following the high profile closure of Megaupload.
"On January 19th Megaupload was shut down by the FBI. Shortly thereafter, several other file hosters curbed their services or entirely stopped their operations," the company told TorrentFreak.
"RapidShare has been faced with a severe increase in free user traffic and unfortunately also in the amount of abuse of our service ever since, suggesting that quite a few copyright infringers have chosen RapidShare as their new hoster of choice for their illegal activities," the company explained.
"We have thus decided to take a painful yet effective step: to reduce the download speed for free users. We are confident that this will make RapidShare very unpopular amongst pirates and thus drive the abusive traffic away."
"We knew that through the action taken we would even affect some RapidPro customers, especially those who offer their own files via websites or blogs and heavily depend on a possibility for free users to download their files," the site continued.
"Therefore, we have decided to offer those customers a kind of deregulation that allows free users to download their files with the fastest possible speed again."
TorrentFreak explains that uploaders of content in that circumstance will have to provide RapidShare with details on the nature of their account including what type of files they're sharing, the name of the sites and blogs where the download links are getting posted, and the uploader's email address and telephone number.
RapidShare adds that by signing up to the scheme, uploaders give the company the right to check their files and websites for illegal activities.