Thursday, December 2, 2010

Amazon says it dumped WikiLeaks because it put innocent people in jeopardy

I previously wrote about how Wikileaks was kicked off its servers yesterday by Amazon, its hosting company. Although it looked like this was an act of censorship, since the company was pressured by politicians, they now argue that it happened for a completely different reason. That the two happened at the same time is, if we are to believe Amazon, merely a coincidence.

In a story in New York Times today, a press release by the company is cited, where Amazon states that they "had canceled [their] relationship with WikiLeaks not because of “a government inquiry,” but because it decided that the organization was violating the terms of service for the program." The full story can be read here.

Although Amazon may tell the truth, the explanation sounds a little bit like an attempt to hide the company's true motives for removing Wikileaks from its servers. Web hosts are often a little more tolerable to paying customers than what Amazon appears to have been. The more likely explanation is therefore, perhaps, that the company simply felt that any association between Amazon and Wikileaks could prove to be negative in the long run. By getting rid of Wikileaks now, they may minimize their potential losses.

Calls are made to boycott Amazon by free speech activists.

This case raises some questions regarding Amazon's behavior, but perhaps more questions about the activities of politicians. Politicians are powerful people and it should be questioned whether they should be allowed to put pressure on companies that host websites that have not yet been found to be illegal. A trial should normally be a precondition for action, but that does not seem to stop senator Joe Lieberman, who was heavily involved in pressuring Amazon.

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