Amazon: We Didn’t Pull Down WikiLeaks Because Of Government

ZUMA Press/Newscom

Say it ain’t so, Joe. Amazon’s web hosting service on Thursday said they didn’t stop hosting WikiLeaks just because Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) asked them to.

The Lieberman camp said this week that Amazon stopped hosting WikiLeaks after inquires from the Connecticut Senator’s office. But Amazon said late Thursday that reports that government inquires caused the pulldown were “inaccurate.”“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,” Amazon said.

WikiLeaks, said Amazon, had violated their terms of service which stated 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,” Amazon said in a statement.

Lieberman also said he will try to stop any hosting company which provides a safe haven for WikiLeaks data.

Human Rights First had written a letter to Amazon asking the company to “make clear the decision making process that led the dropping of Wikileaks from Amazon’s servers and to share with the public which parts of the United States government contacted Amazon with the request to halt service.”

Amazon’s full statement:

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

Late update: Lieberman, along with Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) and Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA), introduced the SHIELD Act (Securing Human Intelligence and Enforcing Lawful Dissemination) on Thursday — a bill which “would give the Administration increased flexibility to go after Wikileaks and its founder Julian Assange by making it illegal to publish the names of human intelligence informants (HUMINT) to the United States military and intelligence community,” according to a news release.

Lieberman said in a statement:

“The recent dissemination by Wikileaks of thousands of State Department cables and other documents is just the latest example of how our national security interests, the interests of our allies, and the safety of government employees and countless other individuals are jeopardized by the illegal release of classified and sensitive information. Our foreign representatives, allies, and intelligence sources must have the clear assurance that their lives will not be endangered by those with opposing agendas, whether they are Americans or not, and our government must make it clear that revealing the identities of these individuals will not be tolerated. This legislation will help hold people criminally accountable who endanger these sources of information that are vital to protecting our national security interests.”

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