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Release Management : Article

[Update] Amazon Boots WikiLeaks Off Its Cloud

WikiLeaks has now reportedly returned to its Swedish host Bahnhof AB

UPDATE: Amazon itself has issued via its Amazon Web Services official blog the following rebuttal:

"There have been reports that a government inquiry prompted us not to serve WikiLeaks any longer. That is inaccurate.

There have also been reports that it was prompted by massive DDOS attacks. That too is inaccurate. There were indeed large-scale DDOS attacks, but they were successfully defended against.

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.

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.

We look forward to continuing to serve our AWS customers and are excited about several new things we have coming your way in the next few months."

Amazon Web Services

Amazon Web Services kicked WikiLeaks off its self-service cloud servers Wednesday after staffers from the US Senate’s Homeland Security Committee called the company following news reports that Amazon was playing host to the renegade site.


The naïve self-appointed secrecy-puncturing “whistleblower” site sought refuge on Amazon after its own site in Sweden was downed by massive denial of service attacks that started when it began publishing equally massive amounts of purloined American diplomatic e-mails and private State Department documents.

Senator Joe Lieberman, who chairs the committee, released a statement saying “Amazon.com decided to terminate its relationship with Wikileaks.”

His full statement reads:

“This morning Amazon informed my staff that it has ceased to host the Wikileaks website. I wish that Amazon had taken this action earlier based on Wikileaks’ previous publication of classified material. The company’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.

I call on any other company or organization that is hosting Wikileaks to immediately terminate its relationship with them. Wikileaks’ illegal, outrageous, and reckless acts have compromised our national security and put lives at risk around the world. No responsible company – whether American or foreign – should assist Wikileaks in its efforts to disseminate these stolen materials. I will be asking Amazon about the extent of its relationship with Wikileaks and what it and other web service providers will do in the future to ensure that their services are not used to distribute stolen, classified information.”

Naturally Amazon is bound to catch some “First Amendment” flak for pulling the plug from people who think it’s their God given right to read other people’s mail.

WikiLeaks is leading that parade. It twittered: “If Amazon are so uncomfortable with the first amendment, they should get out of the business of selling books” and “WikiLeaks servers at Amazon ousted. Free speech the land of the free--fine our $ are now spent to employ people in Europe.”

WikiLeaks has now reportedly returned to its Swedish host Bahnhof AB.

Amazon’s move is unprecedented and although it has now curled up tighter than a ball it can claim that WikiLeaks violated its terms of acceptable use which ban illegal activities, content that “may be harmful to our users, operations or reputation” or jeopardizes the “security or integrity of any network, computer or communication system.”

Meanwhile, as the US tries to figure out how to charge him with espionage, Interpol has a “Most Wanted” arrest warrant out for WikiLeaks’ 39-year- old Australian-born “editor” Julian Assange on allegations of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion. The Swedish police want to talk to him.

Reuters, quoting the British press, says he’s been in the UK avoiding the Swedish authorities since October and that the bobbies know where he is but have so far refused to act on the international warrant.

Assange, like WikiLeaks, has no visible means of support and a nomadic lifestyle. He’s been offered asylum in Ecuador and his going to ground hasn’t stopped him from giving interviews to the press.

He told Time magazine that in its four years of existence WikiLeaks “has never caused an individual, as far as we can determine or as far anyone else can determine, to come to any sort of physical harm or to be wrongly imprisoned and so on.” Maybe he’d like to tell that to the parents of 22-year- old Pfc Bradley Manning, Assange’s alleged source, who’s reportedly been cooling his heels for seven months in solitary confinement and is looking at spending the rest of his life in jail so we can know that Maliki’s a stooge, Karzai’s a crook, Mubarak’s son’s not competent and Pakistan’s president is incapable.

The files reportedly came off of the classified Defense Department SIPRNET administered by the NSA, Defense intelligence Agency and the Defense Information Systems Agency.

Manning reportedly told he guy who ratted him out that the system had “weak servers, weak logging, weak physical security, weak counter- intelligence, inattentive signal analysis…a perfect storm.”

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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