Amazon pulls WikiLeaks plug

WikiLeaks moves URL to Swedish hosting firm after Amazon 'ousted' the controversial site

Amazon has pulled the plug on WikiLeaks, the site that earlier this week began releasing a mammoth collection of confidential U.S. State Department diplomatic cables.

"WikiLeaks servers at Amazon ousted," said WikiLeaks around 3 p.m. Eastern time on its Twitter account. "Free speech the land of the free ... fine our $ are now spent to employ people in Europe."

According to reverse IP traces run by Computerworld, WikiLeaks is now hosted by a Swedish firm, Bahnhof Internet AB, which is headquartered in Uppsala, a city approximately 44 miles north of Stockholm.

As of 3:30 p.m. Eastern time, the primary WikiLeaks site was available to Computerworld staffers in the U.S., but some attempts at reaching the URL failed.

A subsidiary site, Cablegate.wikileaks.org, where the organization has published the full text of more than 500 of the over 250,000 cables in its possession, was also operational. That site had also been shifted to Bahnhof Internet's servers.

Earlier in the week, the Cablegate site had been hosted by a French firm.

WikiLeaks moved to Amazon's hosting service on Monday, apparently as a defensive tactic to avoid or mitigate aggressive denial-of-service (DoS) attacks that took the site offline for several hours that day and then hammered it again yesterday.

According to Craig Labovitz, chief scientist at Arbor Networks, the DoS attacks continued throughout Wednesday morning.

Amazon's hosting terms of service allow it to yank a site off its service without cause.

"[Amazon Web Services] reserves the right to refuse service, terminate accounts, remove or edit content in its sole discretion," the terms state.

Another clause may have also been invoked. "You represent and warrant that you own or otherwise control all of the rights to the content," Amazon's terms continue, "[and] that ... the content you supply ... will not cause injury to any person or entity."

On Monday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said, "Whatever are the motives in disseminating these documents, it is clear that releasing them poses real risks to real people, and often to the very people who have dedicated their own lives to protecting others."

Amazon did not reply to queries on Monday about its hosting of WikiLeaks, nor did it respond to follow-up questions today.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

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