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WikiLeaks case a warning on cloud computing

Ross O. Storey | Dec. 9, 2010
Can cloud providers pull the pin on a service based on its content?

The decision by cloud provider Amazon Web Services - to abruptly terminate its service to the WikiLeaks website should be a clear warning to enterprises about the dependability and importance of cloud service level agreements.

Does this case demonstrate just how easily an enterprises operations can be disrupted by a cloud service provider, who decides it does not agree with a clients content or reputation? Or by a cloud service provider that bows to outside political pressure?

Amazon has maintained that it stopped hosting WikiLeaks on its servers for breaking user rules saying that websites must use their own content and not carry data that might injure others. It did not specify which particular data was likely to injure others.

The IDG News service reports that Amazon has denied that government influence swayed its decision to stop hosting WikiLeaks on its servers, saying the site broke user rules. The assumption is that this relates to the SLA.

Government pressure

The AWS termination of WikiLeaks was welcomed by U.S. Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, chaired by Senator Joe Lieberman, who had also asked Amazon to stop hosting the controversial website.

"This morning Amazon informed my staff that it has ceased to host the WikiLeaks website. I wish that Amazon had taken this action earlier based on WikiLeaks' previous publication of classified material," Lieberman said in a statement on Wednesday.

"WikiLeaks' illegal, outrageous, and reckless acts have compromised our national security and put lives at risk around the world, the US Senator said.

He said that no "responsible company" should host the material and that he intends to ask Amazon about the extent of its relationship with WikiLeaks and about what it will do in the future to make sure that its services are not used to distribute stolen or classified information.

It makes you wonder whether the Senator has also asked AWS to get the same guarantee from WikiLeaks, relating to all major news media outlets who might upset the US Government. So much for an independent, free media, and Government support for freedom of the press.

Ugly politics

The truly ugly side of politics also came to light through the WikiLeaks case, with certain other political advisors (in Canada) opening calling for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to be assassinated. A shocking call from the supposed home of justice and democracy and one which puts a further blot on the US reputation as a bastion of freedom.

It seems theres a trend for some decision makers to want to ignore judicial process and not bother with the annoying delays involved with lawyers, charges and trials.

And where was the condemnation from the Australian government of officials calling for the murder of an Australian citizen?


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