Posts Tagged Wikileaks

Did Wikileaks Outwit Amazon?

The recent takedown of Wikileaks data from Amazon Web Services and the delayed and wishy-washy response from AWS has caused quite a stir in the tech community. Ultimately, Amazon had little choice; the last thing the world’s Internet retailer wants in the run-up to Christmas is a threat from a US Senator calling for a boycott of everything ‘Amazon’ and a backlash of American Patriotism.

The outcome of Wikileaks putting any services of AWS, particularly on US based servers and the announcement of DOS attacks, was inevitable. So why did Wikileaks do it? Surely there was no real need? Wikileaks could have planned for a DOS attack and used any number of mechanisms to manage it, there is not real need to buy AWS services – they could have planned for and used any number of servers/services/hosts (even Uruguay apparently). Surely the nature of their business means that they have reasonably good anti-DOS skills? Besides, is the unavailability of the Wikileaks servers a big deal? Wikileaks has been working with news organizations and most people have been getting the news from mainstream media and not trawling through thousands of inane diplomatic cables by themselves. I know that Wikileaks was under DOS attack, but I didn’t notice as I didn’t go to their site. Wikileaks simply doesn’t rely on their own site being available in order to do ‘business’. In fact, their site is currently down, but their message is top of the BBC News.

WikiLeaks states that

its “primary interest is in exposing oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, but we also expect to be of assistance to people of all regions who wish to reveal unethical behavior in their governments and corporations.”

I wouldn’t be surprised in Wikileaks sees Amazon fitting into that overall picture. Amazon is, after all, a large corporation that is bound to have secrets and some ‘evil’ practices. At the very least their waning support of net neutrality should be enough to fire up proponents of Internet and information freedom. Indeed, Amazon intends to dominate the ebook and surely would be partial to preferred service for Kindles. Even the removal today of the Wikileaks DNS entry is enough to raise a few net neutrality eyebrows.

There is no doubt that Wikileaks knows a thing or two about marketing and using the media; and they broadcast themselves to the world instead of hiding in some dark corner of the Internet. I’m sure that Amazon would rather Wikileaks never landed up on their servers in the first place and would rather not have had to make the decision that they have. Perhaps Wikileaks played Amazon as a way to show them up and create some bad publicity, difficult questions and lingering concerns about their intentions for what Wikileaks may believe is unethical behaviour by a corporation.

Simon Munro

@simonmunro

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