Wikileaks, Amazon and Free Speech

The leaking of hundreds of thousands of State Department cables has put the transparency advocate site Wikileaks on the run from domain to domain as governments where Wikileaks is hosted are putting pressure on service providers to take down the site.

One such case was here in the U.S. as Geoff Fowler in a Wall Street Journal video explains.

Over last weekend Wikileaks was hosted in Europe and under heavy cyber attacks. As a result, Wikileaks transferred at least some of its server time to Amazon Web Services on.

By Tuesday Amazon had been contacted by the office of Sen. Joseph Lieberman, one of the outspoken critics of Wikileaks throughout "Cablegate," asking Amazon to drop Wikileaks from their servers.

By Wednesday morning Amazon called back Sen. Lieberman's office, saying that they had severed all their ties with Wikileaks.

In a statement Amazon announced that it was for "copyright ownership violation" and not because of government pressure that they ended their service to Wikileaks. It's a valid excuse, as the cables certainly weren't Wikileaks' to release, but, then, why did Amazon host Wikileaks in the first place?

Lieberman struck next at data visualization service Tableau for hosting charts about the leaked cables, though unrelated to the actual content of the cables. Tableau, like Amazon, cited their terms of service as their reason for removing the charts from their servers.

If Lieberman gets his way, his SHIELD Act (Securing Human Intelligence and Enforcing Lawful Dissemination), introduced Tuesday, will make it illegal for sites like Wikileaks to publish information" concerning the identity of a classified source or informant of an element of the intelligence community of the United States," or "concerning the human intelligence activities of the United States or any foreign government," according to a Wired article.

All this calls into question how far one could be associated with such leaks and still be breaking the law. If an American publication did like The Guardian and posted the leaked archive on it's site, would that be illegal?

It's hard to tell, but for the moment, students at Columbia with an eye on the public sector had best keep their online mouths shut on Cablegate.

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This page contains a single entry by shee0161 published on December 5, 2010 6:42 PM.

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