WikiLeaks, Amazon, the Cloud & the Law

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Wikileaks has sown controversy with its Internet infrastructure as well as its leaks of secret government documents. Yesterday Wikileaks said it had been “ousted” from Amazon Web Services‘ cloud computing platform, apparently after U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman contacted Amazon to protest. Many aspects of the Wikileaks-Amazon issue are being debated today, including the rights of hosting customer, the implications for providers, and the practical aspects (pro and con) of shifting a site to a cloud platform while it is under an active denial of service attack.

Here’s our review of noteworthy commentary and analysis from around the web on this issue, along with background on Wikileaks other infrastructure options:

  • The Cloud Meets the Law: Where Wikileaks Went Wrong – Derrick Harris at GigaOm: “It’s important to remember that the First Amendment does not really apply in cloud computing. … I still think cloud computing is a transformative delivery model and the future of IT, but potential cloud users – especially those looking to push ethical buttons – would be wise to consider the legalities of what it means to do business in the cloud as well.”
  • WikiLeaks, Amazon and the new threat to internet speech – Rebecca McKinnon offers commentary at CNN: “The WikiLeaks Amazon case also highlights a new problem for American democracy — and ultimately for the future of freedom and democracy more globally. A substantial if not critical amount of our political discourse has moved into the digital realm. This realm is largely made up of virtual spaces that are created, owned and operated by the private sector. As far as the law is concerned, Amazon is off the hook.  The law gives Amazon the right to set its own rules.”
  • Can cloud computing save you from DDoS attacks? – David Linthicum at InfoWorld: “Beyond the politics, it’s interesting to note that sites experiencing DDoS attacks, which saturate server resources, can take refuge in cloud computing providers and their accompanying extra horsepower to outlive the assaults. I suspect that other sites targeted by DDoS attacks — either now or in the future — will consider clouds as a survival strategy.”
  • The Impact of Wikileaks on the Hosting and Cloud Industry – Joshua Beil of Parallels writes at The WHIR: “A hoster or cloud services provider offering raw infrastructure-as-a-service does not have any visibility into the nature of the content being hosted. Content is not smart (at least not yet). From a business standpoint, it’s not like Amazon actively solicited and acquired this business. It came to them. That said, a DDoS attack can result in a massive bandwidth bill and whether Wikileaks was a creditworthy customer was certainly questionable and at this point, one can only wonder if Wikileaks paid their bills before getting dropped or if Amazon had to absorb the bandwidth spike.”
  • WikiLeaks ousted by Amazon, moves to Europe – Netcraft has been providing regular updates on the shifts in Wikileaks’ infrastructure. Today’s update: “WikiLeaks is now served from two IP addresses in Europe: one is hosted by Bahnhof Internet in Sweden, and the other is at OVH in France. Both www.wikileaks.org and cablegate.wikileaks.org are being served from these IP addresses, and have been showing good response times since the move.”
  • This Is Where the WikiLeaks Servers Are Now – Gizmodo looks at OVH, the French hosting and collocation services that is one of the two European data centers now providing services to Wikileaks.
  • Inside the ‘James Bond Villain’ Data Center – The other European host for Wikileaks is Bahnhof Internet in Sweden, home of the wild “James Bond Villain” data center located in a nuke-proof bunker 100 feet below Stockholm. Here’s a video of the facility.

About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor-in-chief of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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