Just Weeks After Cutting Off Wikileaks, Amazon Brags About How US Federal Gov't Is One Of Its Biggest AWS Customers?

from the must-be-a-coincidence,-huh? dept

While Senator Joe Lieberman took credit for pressuring Amazon to stop hosting Wikileaks content via its Amazon Web Services infrastructure, Amazon insisted that government pressure had nothing to do with it. Still, it seems rather odd that just weeks after booting Wikileaks, Amazon sent out a press release bragging about how the US federal government is one of its biggest customers (found via Slashdot). Now, obviously, lots of tech companies do plenty of business with the federal government, but the timing of the two events at least creates an impression that Amazon will kick you off its service if the federal government disapproves of what you've done (even if no legal charges have been filed against you). Again, no one is saying that Amazon has no right to deny service to whomever it wishes, but it does seem a bit odd from a PR standpoint, and raises questions about how much anyone should trust working with Amazon web services. I know it's making me reconsider my own use of the platform for various projects.

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 29th, 2010 @ 11:40pm

    There's also the point that their self-proclaimed biggest customer disapproved of another customer, and that other customer was sent packing.
    So, is it just the government that has Amazon at their beck and call, or could any sufficiently well-paying entity have a site kicked off of Amazon?

    Probably not. Personally, I think they're just worried about Lieberman & company going ballistic. But still, their PR department definitely fumbled this one.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Dean Procter, Dec 30th, 2010 @ 12:08am

    Given that Amazon were selling the wikileaks cables in book and kindle form all the while it would certainly my increase my concerns.
    There is also the other thing for perhaps foreign companies to consider - using Amazon services is effectively subsidising the US government's use. Perhaps if you disagree with torture, renditions CIA sodomy then you'll decide to just keep your stuff in a European cloud.
    There are the other aspects of competition - Amazon is a store and various other things, perhaps if my product or service were to diminish Amazon's business then they could do a similar thing to my business and call upon a return of the favour they have just extended the US government in relation to wikileaks.ie use the US govt or courts to muscle me.
    Really doesn't sound like a sound business proposition to me, definately not the cloud to have your head in.
    Conversely it may be productive for US companies in on the game eh wink?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    jakerome (profile), Dec 30th, 2010 @ 1:01am

    I don't get it

    There's so much understanding around here that with user generated content & 3rd party providers, things are automated and content isn't screened before getting posted. Now one customer realizes that they can't handle their own hosting due to overwhelmed servers, and they sign up for AWS using the automated system. Nearly immediately, the account is terminated. Now, this wasn't some long-time customer that AWS turned its back on... nope, it was a brand new customer that only decided to purchase the service when their other options had failed. Of course, WL surely knew they'd get booted in short order, and using their PR savvy played it for all the sympathy they could get it.

    That WL managed to snow the "lamestream media" is understandable since they just don't understand user generated (or user uploaded) content. But Techdirt knows better. There's a certain willingness to ignore salient facts in the WL case in order to cast some service providers (AWS being the top target) as villains, when the very openness of these turnkey solutions is used in other cases to explain why 3rd party providers should have no liability.

    WL was never an AWS customer, in the sense that they never paid a bill. They wanted to buy AWS services, and AWS turned 'em done. That Sen. Lieberman was quick enough to make a politically advantageous yet effectively useless demand was luck on his part, as he now can falsely claim that he forced AWS to shut off WL. This is almost certainly a fraud, and I am honestly perplexed that Techdirt would perpetuate JL self-serving BS.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 30th, 2010 @ 1:13am

    Re: I don't get it

    It is the same silly song they played with wikileaks.org domain. DNS is something that is easy to do, you don't need a third party provider to do it. Wikileaks didn't lose their domain, they could have easily moved to another DNS server in minutes.

    That the wikileaks.org domain now points through to a mirror site says it all. Once again, Julian manipulates the media for his own self-serving ends. After all, without great tales to tell, nobody will give you a 7 figure book deal.

    Considering he is in the "modern media" isn't it a little weird that he is doing a book for retail? Shouldn't he just be writing it in a blog or a PDF and releasing it? Oh wait, there isn't any money in that!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 30th, 2010 @ 1:26am

    Re: Re: I don't get it

    I wonder if the book will get pirated.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    haiku, Dec 30th, 2010 @ 2:02am

    Unfortunately it's not only Amazon.

    Use of a 'cloud' service places your business at risk: if your service supplier is unhappy they can close down your business at short notice claiming a transgression of their terms of service and there is very little that you can do about it except spend a pile on lawyers ...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Hoeppner, Dec 30th, 2010 @ 3:50am


    I fail to see how this is true for any type of "tube service".

    Even if you go so far as being your own ISP provider, you still need to wheel and deal with other ISP providers to have access to anywhere outside your network.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Howard the Duck, Dec 30th, 2010 @ 4:59am

    Re: I don't get it

    No one could have said it better.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 30th, 2010 @ 7:30am

    I love the logic at work here.

    I know it's making me reconsider my own use of the platform for various projects.

    Think for a minute. When Amazon was hosting wikileaks and getting pressure from certain corners because of it, everyone was wrong. When they were considering not using Amazon as a result, they were all wrong, stupid, and pig headed.

    Now that Amazon mentions that the feds are their biggest client, you are considering not using Amazon as a result and you are right?

    I wish you would hold yourself of to the same high standards you try to hold others to. You expect Amazon to somehow change their policy on Wikileaks to get you as a client, but they should not change to reflect the desires of other clients?

    Arrogance in action!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    abc gum, Dec 30th, 2010 @ 9:54am


    So, you are endorsing the use of amazon cloud then?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 30th, 2010 @ 11:07am

    Re: Re:

    Cloud technology has it's uses, but it isn't all singing and all dancing. As for endorsing it, that would depend on what someone was looking to do. Amazon is incredibly powerful but not particularly fast, if I had to handle a million signups for something, it might be a good place to work from.

    The point more is that once again, TD wants to have the ability to pressure companies by withdrawing their business, while at the same time mocking anyone on the other side of an issue who does the same. It is incredibly two faced, don't you think?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. icon
    RobShaver (profile), Dec 31st, 2010 @ 12:02pm

    Denial of Service

    So when Amazon (and all the financial institutions) refusing to service Wikileaks, wouldn't you call that a "Denial of Service"? And, since it all came at about the same time could you call it an attack on Wikileaks? Further since it's many different companies, is it not distributed?

    Oh, but it's all okay because they claim "Terms of Service" violation.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Ian Pratt, Jan 2nd, 2011 @ 5:11am


    I've already closed my account at Amazon.com. I do this in solidarity with those who have been victimized by Big Box stores (online or brick-and-mortar).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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