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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

December 2, 2010 at 5:04 PM

Amazon explains WikiLeaks cutoff: Not because of feds

Amazon.com is finally explaining why it stopped hosting the latest batch of WikiLeaks content, saying it wasn’t because of pressure from the government.

The Seattle company was in a bind over the State Department files, which were moved to Amazon’s self-service Web hosting service after WikiLeaks released them on Sunday.

Amazon tries to take a neutral stance toward content sold and stored on its infrastructure, but it removed the WikiLeaks material after complaints were raised, including protests by Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut.

Today, Amazon Web Services posted an explanation, saying the material was removed not because of the government inquiry, but because it violated the company’s terms of service.

Here’s the key passage:

Amazon Web Services (AWS) rents computer infrastructure on a self-service basis. AWS does not pre-screen its customers, but it does have terms of service that must be followed. WikiLeaks was not following them. There were several parts they were violating. For example, our terms of service state that “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.” It’s clear that WikiLeaks doesn’t own or otherwise control all the rights to this classified content. 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.

Amazon said hundreds of thousands of customers have used AWS services.

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.

Comments | More in | Topics: Amazon.com, amazon.com, aws

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