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.