It seems that criticising WikiLeaks is either unfashionable or your patriotic duty, according to who you are. And of course in the web 2.0 world, the rumours go round the world twice, constantly morphing into bigger and better conspiracy theories, before the truth has got its socks on let alone its boots.
There is a segment of the internet that thinks Amazon is an embodiment of corporate evil (i.e. enforces intellectual property rights) and that WikiLeaks is an unequivocal force for good.
There is a segment that thinks Amazon is a powerful force for good (i.e. a good capitalist venture that makes money) and that WikiLeaks is a work of Communist evil aimed at destabilising the Free World (i.e. America).
And there is the rest of us: the ambivalent middle ground. Or, as Ben Goldacre might put it, “I think you’ll find it’s a bit more complicated than that”.
Much of the criticism of amazon has been thoughtless knee-jerk militant free speech advocacy, defending WikiLeaks on the grounds that all publication of government information is valid free speech. It’s not. There are, and always have been, things a state needs to keep secret for the security of its citizens. Not half as many as the UK tries to keep secret, for sure, but not everything should be published.
As I said before, Amazon had a clear case for summary termination of WikiLeaks’ account due to terms of service violations.Â Amazon states exactly this in a press release today:
Weâ€™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 thatâ€™s perfectly fine. But, when companies or people go about securing and storing large quantities of data that isnâ€™t rightfully theirs, and publishing this data without ensuring it wonâ€™t injure others, itâ€™s a violation of our terms of service, and folks need to go operate elsewhere.
Amazon explicitly states that they were not taken down by the US Government. That, of course, is taken by the usual suspects as evidence that it was US Government intervention, because for some people it always is Government intervention, no business ever makes any decision you don’t like without the evil conspiracy being involved.
Me, I take it at face value. WikiLeaks violated Amazon’s terms of service. Absolutely unequivocally. So they got kicked, as you or I would get kicked. I still wonder why Julian Assange chose to use Amazon without at least talking to them, as this was pretty close to an inevitable result.
The EFF are militant free-speechers, albeit usually thoughtful and generally correct. They say it’s
all the more unfortunate that Amazon caved to unofficial government pressure to squelch core political speech
Whoa there. Apart from [W:begging the question] (really? you have evidence that they caved to unofficial government pressure? in writing?) it is absolutely not the case that publishing internal communicationsÂ is “core political speech”. We are talking here about traffic to and from embassies, something that is covered by privilege under [W:international law] in every country in the world. There has never been a right or freedom to publish diplomatic communications, whether briefings or simple matters of opinion. I’m not the only one to think this is a violation of [W:diplomatic privilege].
I support WikiLeaks’ release of information that shows conscious and deliberate wrongdoing by state actors. [W:Collateral murder] was a brave, principled and above all valid exercise of free speech. But just as the First Amendment does not give a man the right to shout Fire in a crowded theatre, it does not cover privileged communications.
I have not [W:drunk the Kool-Aid], on either side.