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Amazon Responds to WikiLeaks Reports

Amazon Web Services (AWS) late Thursday said it has not caved to political pressure when deciding to oust WikiLeaks from its cloud service. Rather, WikiLeaks violated the cloud provider's terms of service.

Various news organizations and blogs yesterday reported that the United States government pressured AWS to remove the WikiLeaks content from its site. While Senator Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., issued a statement blasting AWS for hosting the 250,000-plus classified State Department documents and cables, the company denied that political pressure had anything to do with its decision to bump WikiLeaks.

AWS also acknowledged that while there were unsuccessful DDOS attacks aimed at it, they were not the reason the WikiLeaks content was removed.  "AWS does not pre-screen its customers, but it does have terms of service that must be followed," the company said in a statement. "WikiLeaks was not following them."

For example, AWS 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."

U.S. government officials have warned that the classified data in the WikiLeaks documents could put lives in danger and compromise national security. AWS indicated there was little dispute that WikiLeaks didn't own the content and that the existence of that content did put people at risk.

 "We’ve been running AWS for over four years and have hundreds of thousands of customers storing all kinds of data on AWS," the company said. "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."

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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