Amazon Shows Wikileaks the Door


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You'll have to take my word on this: What I meant to write this morning but didn't was that Wikileaks would be a former Amazon Web hosting customer by day's end.

(2010's 25 Geekiest 25th Anniversaries)

Here's Wikileaks confirming that guess on Twitter about an hour ago:

WikiLeaks servers at Amazon ousted. Free speech the land of the free -- fine our $ are now spent to employ people in Europe.

That came shortly after I read this statement from Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, on Talking Points Memo:

This morning Amazon informed my staff that it has ceased to host the Wikileaks website. I wish that Amazon had taken this action earlier based on Wikileaks' previous publication of classified material. The company's decision to cut off Wikileaks now is the right decision and should set the standard for other companies Wikileaks is using to distribute its illegally seized material.

So did the U.S. government and/or Amazon trample the free-speech rights of Wikileaks "in the land of the free," as Wikileaks implies?

That depends on whether Amazon's "informing" of Lieberman's office was a courtesy or a cry of uncle. Given the enormous uproar over the most recent Wikileaks document dump from an unusually united U.S. government, it doesn't take much to imagine that Amazon had an arm twisted by someone or someones in Washington. If so, you've got a classic case of censorship.

If, however, Amazon decided it was in its own best interests - and the best interests of its stockholders - to tell Wikileaks that its business was no longer welcome? (Boycott calls were growing louder as the day wore on.) Well, that would place the matter more alongside Amazon's recent decision to pull a pedophilia how-to book from its virtual shelves: a judgment call, one with which we are all free to agree or disagree.

And the two scenarios are not mutually exclusive.

Someone ask Jeff Bezos to roll up his sleeves; I'll bet we see red marks.

(Update: Computerworld's Gregg Keizer reports that Wikileaks has found a new home: "According to reverse IP traces run by Computerworld, WikiLeaks is now hosted by a Swedish firm, Bahnhof Internet AB, which is headquartered in Uppsala, a city approximately 44 miles north of Stockholm. As of 3:30 p.m. ET, the primary WikiLeaks site was available to Computerworld staffers in the U.S., but some attempts at reaching the URL failed.")

(Update 2: The Guardian sees no maybe about it: "WikiLeaks website pulled by Amazon after US political pressure." GigaOm's headline agrees, although "appears to be" appears in the lead. And TPM is back with a followup: "How Lieberman Got Amazon To Drop Wikileaks.")

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This story, "Amazon Shows Wikileaks the Door" was originally published by Network World.

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