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Assange claims 'free speech deficit' scalp

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On October 25, The Register reported that WikiLeaks was mirroring data on Amazon servers in both the US and Ireland, including the classifed "Iraq War logs." But aside from a brief mention on The Daily Telegraph website, the news received little mention in the mainstream media. We contacted Amazon at the time and alerted them to the mirrors, but the company did not respond.

Then, earlier this week, we reported that WikiLeaks had hoisted its "cablegate" documents onto Amazon, and this time, the news was picked up by the Wall Street Journal and several other major news outlets. The Joe Liebermans of the world, you see, read The Wall Street Journal.

What's more, a day after Amazon booted WikiLeaks, the site was also ousted by its US-based DNS provider, EveryDNS. Last month, we spoke to EveryDNS about WikiLeaks' use of its service, and though it declined to discuss the accounts of specific customers, it said it would only remove customers if they violated its terms of service. We also spoke to Dynadot, WikiLeaks' US-based domain name registrar. President Todd Han echoed what EveryDNS told us, but he did add that it typically only removes sites for violations if it receives a complaint from an injured party.

"Usually, most of the time, we resonded to complaints, but sometimes we will take action on our own if it violates our terms of service," Han told us. "If they violate the law, they violate terms of service. But with these kinds of situations with domains, there are two sides of the story. There's a lot of grey areas."

Indeed.

Like Amazon, EveryDNS did not boot WikiLeaks until this week — more than a month after we first spoke to the company about the site. Unlike Amazon, it said that it removed WikiLeaks due to DDos attacks on the site. "The services were terminated for violation of the provision which states that 'Member shall not interfere with another Member's use and enjoyment of the Service or another entity's use and enjoyment of similar services'," EveryDNS said in a statement.

"The interference at issue arises from the fact that wikileaks.org has become the target of multiple distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks. These attacks have, and future attacks would, threaten the stability of the EveryDNS.net infrastructure, which enables access to almost 500,000 other websites."

Naturally, WikiLeaks has simply moved its service elsewhere. Booted by its DNS provider, the site has resurfaced on a Swiss net domain. "WikiLeaks moves to Switzerland http://wikileaks.ch/," read another Tweet from WikiLeaks.

In other words, the whole saga has played out just as expected. "Even if Amazon is insulated from liability, I suspect Amazon will choose to remove the content 'voluntarily' (motivated by a little persuasion from the government), presumably citing a breach of its terms of service as a pretext," Santa Clara law professor and tech law blogger Eric Goldman told The Reg a month ago.

"A more 'ideological' web host would probably fight more vigorously for its users' publishing rights than Amazon will." Unless a federal crime has been committed, Amazon is not legally required to remove the data, and it's unclear whether WikiLeaks is committing a criminal act.

And echoing other suspicions from late October, WikiLeaks founder has now claimed that the site purposefully mirrored its data on Amazon's servers to expose the company's "free speech deficit."

"Since 2007 we have been deliberately placing some of our servers in jurisdictions that we suspected suffered a free speech deficit in order to separate rhetoric from reality," Assange said on Friday during a live chat on The Guardian's website. "Amazon was one of these cases." ®

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