Wikileaks, Amazon and Joe Lieberman


TPM explains how Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, asked and Amazon complied:

Lieberman said in a statement that Amazon’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.”

Committee staff had seen news reports yesterday that Wikileaks was being hosted on Amazon’s servers, a committee spokeswoman told TPM. The service, we should note, is self-serve; as with services like YouTube, the company does not screen or pre-approve the content posted on its servers.

Staffers then, according to the spokeswoman, Leslie Phillips, called Amazon to ask about it, and left questions with a press secretary including, “Are there plans to take the site down?”

Amazon called them back this morning to say they had kicked Wikileaks off, Phillips said. Amazon said the site had violated unspecified terms of use.

Amazon has not responded to requests for comment. Its terms of acceptable use include a ban on illegal activities (it’s not yet clear whether Wikileaks has broken any laws) and content “that may be harmful to our users, operations, or reputation.” It also prohibits using Amazon’s servers “to violate the security or integrity of any network, computer or communications system,” although Wikileaks obviously obtained the cables long before hopping on Amazon’s servers.

So was Amazon following the law, its terms of service or the demands of Senator Lieberman?

Like the TSA pat-downs, another example of security theater. Wikileaks was quickly up again at its previous Swedish host, Bahnhof AB. Will Wilkinson in The Economist:

With or without WikiLeaks, the technology exists to allow whistleblowers to leak data and documents while maintaining anonymity. With or without WikiLeaks, the personnel, technical know-how, and ideological will exists to enable anonymous leaking and to make this information available to the public. Jailing Thomas Edison in 1890 would not have darkened the night.

Yet the debate over WikiLeaks has proceeded as if the matter might conclude with the eradication of these kinds of data dumps — as if this is a temporary glitch in the system that can be fixed; as if this is a nuisance that can be made to go away with the application of sufficient government gusto.

RELATED: Senator Lieberman’s statement. The Wikileaks tweet saying its servers on Amazon had been “ousted” and another saying “If Amazon are so uncomfortable with the first amendment, they should get out of the business of selling books.” Techmeme discussion.