Amazon comments on Wikileaks hosting action

Just two days ago WikiLeaks went to Amazon's EC2 cloud computing platform, and then was removed quickly leaving visitors unable to reach the site. At the time, neither Amazon nor WikiLeaks would comment on exactly what happened between the two organizations. Early today, WikiLeaks sent out a message which slammed Amazon in a tweet. Amazon finally decided to have their say in the event as well.

Amazon begins their message by busting any myths or rumors as to why WikiLeaks was removed. The government did not get involved and the DDoS attacks, while actually happening, did not prompt the removal. Instead, it came down to Amazon Web Services policy to prevent the whistleblowing organization to continue operating on their servers.

The company's terms of service state, “you represent and warrant that you own or otherwise control all of the rights to the content… that use of the content you supply does not violate this policy and will not cause injury to any person or entity.” The very premise of WikiLeaks breaks this rule, but in addition to the legality of the service, Amazon was watching out for the public. Any respect lost for Amazon over the past few days' events should be overturned by their real point as to why they removed service to WikiLeaks:

Further, it is not credible that the extraordinary volume of 250,000 classified documents that WikiLeaks is publishing could have been carefully redacted in such a way as to ensure that they weren’t putting innocent people in jeopardy. Human rights organizations have in fact written to WikiLeaks asking them to exercise caution and not release the names or identities of human rights defenders who might be persecuted by their governments.

As Amazon Web Services does not pre-screen its customers, anyone can gain hosting as long as their terms of service have not been infringed upon. This is why WikiLeaks could quickly gain the service, but also why they lost it just as fast. Amazon does want to make their stance on censorship and policy on controversial data clear though:

We’ve been running AWS for over four years and have hundreds of thousands of customers storing all kinds of data on AWS. Some of this data is controversial, and that’s perfectly fine. But, when companies or people go about securing and storing large quantities of data that isn’t rightfully theirs, and publishing this data without ensuring it won’t injure others, it’s a violation of our terms of service, and folks need to go operate elsewhere.

Amazon also wishes to let it be known that they look forward to continue serving their customers to the fullest and hint at exciting things happening with the service in the next few months.

 

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"Had Amazon continued to host Wikileaks, anyone that claimed they were injured could have sued for claimed damages including pain & suffering..."

well hell. everything u all have said here has deeply offended/injured me, sooo be prepared to be sued and my lawyer is a trigger happy mofo.

Many of us can understand if Amazon does not want WikiLeak's busniess, but fortunately for Amazon they have policies that they can leverage and justifiably excise customers that could potentically be troublesome. WikiLeaks is a no brainer in that respect; Amazon is a business after all. I say they are covered for this situation.

yeah, good try amazon... except it's already been reported by a government staffer that the government did get involved...

Why does everyone have to be lying? The hosting server lies, the domain name registrar lies...

Purely from a biz perspective Amazon had no choice.

Please remember that in the US it's *Very* easy to sue or get sued, & the penalties or judgments can be amazing -- awards are often high enough that lawyers will work consignment, getting paid maybe 1/3 of what's left from the total after their (most often very high) expenses have been paid. And if they settle before a court judgment or verdict, their fees are included 1st in the settlement. All in all many feel that's much better than sitting in your office hoping for a client to come in so you can pay the rent. In that environment *Any* biz has to be extremely careful, especially big companies like Amazon, who are most often seen by juries as having unlimited resources, meaning that juries are likely to feel it would take huge sums of money to actually be a punishment.

Had Amazon continued to host Wikileaks, anyone that claimed they were injured could have sued for claimed damages including pain & suffering -- it would be terribly expensive for Amazon to defend, both in legal fees & in terms of lost customers because of the trials & publicity. And that's regardless whether anyone was injured or not!... Odds are with that many documents in this release someone would or will be -- whether you'd call them innocent or not is irrelevant, as they could still sue Amazon either way. And then you have the possibility of *Not Just* local, state, &/or federal gov lawsuits &/or prosecutions, but Amazon's shareholders could bring legal action as well, because by getting in this whole legal mess to start with Amazon would have been negligent & lost money!

Wikileaks can make all the noise they want & at the end of the day it will still just be a sales pitch &/or PR -- they and particularly their legal team &/or advisers knew from the start that Amazon couldn't continue to host Wikileaks, plain & simple... and it didn't matter -- why else would an organization of that size choose self-service hosting, if not as a temporary stop-gap until more favorable terms could be arranged?

That stuff's not pro or against Wikileaks -- it's just facts of life & biz (& non even biz 101 at that).

Does that Amazon term not mean that you can't host anything on their servers?! Just coz you don't 100% control tge rights to something, doesn't make it illegal to use it..

Eg I don't own Apache, but I'm allowed to use it.....

That's BS terms

rtire said,
Does that Amazon term not mean that you can't host anything on their servers?! Just coz you don't 100% control tge rights to something, doesn't make it illegal to use it..

Eg I don't own Apache, but I'm allowed to use it.....

That's BS terms

rtire said,
Does that Amazon term not mean that you can't host anything on their servers?! Just coz you don't 100% control tge rights to something, doesn't make it illegal to use it..

Eg I don't own Apache, but I'm allowed to use it.....

That's BS terms

But Apache allows you to use it. The documents were stolen, thus, no writes given.

hagjohn said,

But Apache allows you to use it. The documents were stolen, thus, no writes given.

There's a difference between controlling the rights and allowing someone to use something.

You can use Apache and Notepad++ legally but you don't have any control over the rights of the software.

The Wikileaks expose shows the dirty game that the US plays. While many here on the forum think that they are just comments, there are some documents that show how the US plays both sides and shileds countries that support terrorism at the cost of other countries.

spenumatsa said,
The Wikileaks expose shows the dirty game that the US plays. While many here on the forum think that they are just comments, there are some documents that show how the US plays both sides and shileds countries that support terrorism at the cost of other countries.

spenumatsa said,
The Wikileaks expose shows the dirty game that the US plays. While many here on the forum think that they are just comments, there are some documents that show how the US plays both sides and shileds countries that support terrorism at the cost of other countries.

Right, like how we *obviously* support Chavez in Venezuela. And of course Pakistan has nothing to do with anything in India, and those Chinese arms they found in Africa didn't come from China... Ummm, try the grape Kool-Aid -- it's nice. ;-)

KavazovAngel said,
Stop with the "could put innocent lives in danger" crap already.

I agree 100%
One life is no more, no less valuable than another.
Why would killing non-innocents be OK?

Amazon may have opened a can of worms with this one.. I know of a LOT of sites on Amazon that break the stated policy in one way or another

blahism said,
Amazon may have opened a can of worms with this one.. I know of a LOT of sites on Amazon that break the stated policy in one way or another
Afraid that is always the case.

I find this entire thing ridiculous to the point of hilarity. Now granted, they've released some interesting tidbits in the past, but this is not free speech, this is not security, not "the right to know", not anything. All of the interesting things that have come of this latest round of wikileaks are personal memos and private conversations; no ones business. They're not even top secret, most not even secret, but holy hell how dare people try and keep their private conversations private. Good grief, if the things I've said in private, on the job or anywhere else, were to get out...I'd have a world of egg on my face. Its a shame we cant expect things to remain as such anymore.

spalek83 said,
What the hell else were they supposed to do.
Not say a damn thing And simply tell them it would cost them more to host. That's all!


All they needed were more resources.

The problem with this is painfully obvious to me, IF we could trust the government to ONLY act reasonably and censor legitimate state secrets, that's fine with me. What ALWAYS happens is they use these events to give themselves more power and authority and always use it for any purpose they wish afterwards. Homeland security, TSA all for YOU, not the make believe terrorists, started the same way. Personally, I prefer to live with the risk of terrorism or being outed with info occasionally than having all my freedoms stolen. For all we know, this wikileaks thing is exactly what some elements of the government want, so they can grab the internet even faster. Wake TFU already.

Hahaiah said,
The problem with this is painfully obvious to me, IF we could trust the government to ONLY act reasonably and censor legitimate state secrets, that's fine with me. What ALWAYS happens is they use these events to give themselves more power and authority and always use it for any purpose they wish afterwards. Homeland security, TSA all for YOU, not the make believe terrorists, started the same way. Personally, I prefer to live with the risk of terrorism or being outed with info occasionally than having all my freedoms stolen. For all we know, this wikileaks thing is exactly what some elements of the government want, so they can grab the internet even faster. Wake TFU already.

I am awake, my tin foil hat makes it hard to sleep. Gotta love conspiracy theories.

Hellacool said,
I am awake, my tin foil hat makes it hard to sleep. Gotta love conspiracy theories.
keep drinking that Government-Knows-Best Kool Aid

Hellacool said,

I am awake, my tin foil hat makes it hard to sleep. Gotta love conspiracy theories.

Please, you'd have to be deaf, dumb and blind to not realize that's exactly what happened thanks to 9/11. In a couple generations you'll probably need the government's permission before you take a ****.

Hahaiah said,
The problem with this is painfully obvious to me, IF we could trust the government to ONLY act reasonably and censor legitimate state secrets, that's fine with me. What ALWAYS happens is they use these events to give themselves more power and authority and always use it for any purpose they wish afterwards. Homeland security, TSA all for YOU, not the make believe terrorists, started the same way. Personally, I prefer to live with the risk of terrorism or being outed with info occasionally than having all my freedoms stolen. For all we know, this wikileaks thing is exactly what some elements of the government want, so they can grab the internet even faster. Wake TFU already.

Even if this wasn't orchestrated by some shady official 'intelligence' agency, they'll use it to the fullest - be prepared for a full crack down on free speech blogs etc - they'll all be classed as terrorist orgs soon! this is just the kind of thing needed - problem - solution! simple 1:2 combo!

"Further, it is not credible that the extraordinary volume of 250,000 classified documents that WikiLeaks is publishing could have been carefully redacted in such a way as to ensure that they weren't putting innocent people in jeopardy. Human rights organizations have in fact written to WikiLeaks asking them to exercise caution and not release the names or identities of human rights defenders who might be persecuted by their governments."

That's not a business decision. That's someone at Amazon's opinion. My relationship with them has already been terminated permanently. Too little, too implausible, too late. There are many other web stores.

Maybe you should read Amazon's whole message instead of focusing in on one part of a paragraph that happens to be posted here on Neowin. Also, not only was it a business decision, it was the right business decision. I'm sure they retained and or gained quite a bit more customers then they lost.

GreyWolf said,
"Further, it is not credible that the extraordinary volume of 250,000 classified documents that WikiLeaks is publishing could have been carefully redacted in such a way as to ensure that they weren't putting innocent people in jeopardy. Human rights organizations have in fact written to WikiLeaks asking them to exercise caution and not release the names or identities of human rights defenders who might be persecuted by their governments."

That's not a business decision. That's someone at Amazon's opinion. My relationship with them has already been terminated permanently. Too little, too implausible, too late. There are many other web stores.

How petty of you. Why don't you permanently terminate your US citizenship instead? If you're going to subscribe to that train of thought, obviously it's all the US government's evilly orchestrated plan to pressure Amazon, thus it's not their fault.

GreyWolf said,

That's not a business decision. That's someone at Amazon's opinion. My relationship with them has already been terminated permanently. Too little, too implausible, too late. There are many other web stores.

Wait, you had a relationship with Amazon? Do they swallow? Seriously, though, who gives a **** if they don't want to play web host to a shady website? They're a retail business, and they still have the largest selection and usually great prices.

SOOPRcow said,
Maybe you should read Amazon's whole message instead of focusing in on one part of a paragraph that happens to be posted here on Neowin. Also, not only was it a business decision, it was the right business decision. I'm sure they retained and or gained quite a bit more customers then they lost.

Maybe I did just that before I posted. I don't believe it. It's backpeddling schlock. They are in damage control mode now. The have zero problems leaving fraudulent and even illegal "tasks" on Mechanical Turk even after tons of people have reported them, so I cannot believe they suddenly grew morals.

Public image means a lot to big companies, and I can't say I blame amazon for deciding things the way they did.While the use of the ToS to deny service to wikileaks makes legitimate sense I seriously doubt there was no government involvment. Not to say they were coercerd but I'm sure there was a sugestion made.

I understand where Amazon is coming from, walking the line to maintain a positive public image, pacify government officials and remembering that they are a business. That being said, those cheering this censorship, which it is, are also cheering on their own loss of freedom. If these were Russian or Chinese documents, would you feel the same? When you start allowing even one seemingly reasonable instance of censorship, you let it ALL in. Lieberman, the most vile of politicians made this happen, he bullied an American company to do his bidding. Personally, I'd like to know why the "best" country in the world has to hide and make excuses for acting illegally and arguably "un-american". We (Americans) live in a bubble of delusions thats about to burst.

Hahaiah said,
I understand where Amazon is coming from, walking the line to maintain a positive public image, pacify government officials and remembering that they are a business. That being said, those cheering this censorship, which it is, are also cheering on their own loss of freedom. If these were Russian or Chinese documents, would you feel the same? When you start allowing even one seemingly reasonable instance of censorship, you let it ALL in. Lieberman, the most vile of politicians made this happen, he bullied an American company to do his bidding. Personally, I'd like to know why the "best" country in the world has to hide and make excuses for acting illegally and arguably "un-american". We (Americans) live in a bubble of delusions thats about to burst.

What if the information was medical records or the names and faces of all the NYC under-cover officers. Maybe a list of rape victims. The bottom line is that whistle blowing is one thing but just throwing out documents under the guise of freedom of information is wrong. These documents are just the beginning, what's to stop wikileaks from releasing the stuff I mentioned? The documents are stolen, regardless of their content and this site just throws them out there with no regard for the impact.

Hahaiah said,
Personally, I'd like to know why the "best" country in the world has to hide and make excuses for acting illegally and arguably "un-american". We (Americans) live in a bubble of delusions thats about to burst.

You do know that most of these leaked documents were just comments about other people and countries, right? Nothing really huge was revealed that we didn't really already know.

Finally, this isn't really censorship. Do I have the right to steal the Windows 7 source code and publish it online? No, because its not mine and its protected. These documents aren't ours, they are mostly diplomatic writings, and they are classified.

Chrono951 said,

You do know that most of these leaked documents were just comments about other people and countries, right? Nothing really huge was revealed that we didn't really already know.

Finally, this isn't really censorship. Do I have the right to steal the Windows 7 source code and publish it online? No, because its not mine and its protected. These documents aren't ours, they are mostly diplomatic writings, and they are classified.

It is censorship if you believe that copying data/knowledge is not theft.

Hahaiah said,
censorship, which it is

That's not quite censorship. Censorship is if I write or say or create something, and a media body edits it or tells me that I'm not allowed to write/say/publish/broadcast that.
If I take something that someone else created and decide that the right thing to do is show it to the world, it's not censorship if they argue I don't have the write to do that. My product, their product.

Draje said,

It is censorship if you believe that copying data/knowledge is not theft.

You're suggesting that you have the right to take a personal conversation I had with a coworker / friend over skype and post it to the internet without my permission? Two letter acronym for ya, the first starting with F.

thornz0 said,

You're suggesting that you have the right to take a personal conversation I had with a coworker / friend over skype and post it to the internet without my permission? Two letter acronym for ya, the first starting with F.

I think the way to look at this is not to compare it to your private conversations with co-workers. Should a governing body have the right to hide information from it's citizens? Not in a true democracy. However, we live in a representative democracy - and the individuals we elect on our behalf are hiding things from us. They are hiding things from each other. They are hiding things from the rest of the world. All governmental bodies do this under the guise of 'protection', but is it really?

It really reminds you how human the people in the government are. And the fact that they are so frightened, tells you that they are hiding some really incriminating things. They break the law too, only they have the ability to hide it under the word 'confidential', shouldn't they be accountable for their actions just as we are?

If complete transparency is the only way for a government to stay moral and abide the law, then I say we go for it. When there's no more secrets and lies to hide behind maybe we can actually start fixing ****. How many millions or even billions of dollars do you think go into covering things up or paying people off? It happens. You better believe it happens.

dbam987 said,
+1 to Amazon.
-99999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999

Guess Wikileaks wins.

Darrian said,
Yeah, probably not; nobody does. What's your point?

His point is probably: "Amazon just doesn't want bad publicity."

SuperHans said,

His point is probably: "Amazon just doesn't want bad publicity."


I guess Darrian's point is, he isn't wondered by that and everyone would like to prevent bad publicity, hence would enforce their own TOS. Which, by the way, they'll enforce with every costumer.
His question is rhetorical.

GS:mac

steveomac said,
Amazon just doesn't want bad publicity.
Well in that case, they should have just shut up and move on!

steveomac said,
Don't believe it.

What is there not to believe steveomac? You were happy amazon kicked them off but now that it's for a legitimate reason you don't believe it?