WikiLeaks Doesn’t Know First Amendment; Amazon Does.
Apparently, for a short time, WikiLeaks was paying Amazon for the use of some of their web servers to host their site… but that has now come to an end, for Amazon has (rightfully) pulled da plug.
Amazon.com Inc. forced WikiLeaks to stop using the U.S. company’s computers to distribute embarrassing State Department communications and other documents, WikiLeaks said Wednesday.
The ouster came after congressional staff questioned Amazon about its relationship with WikiLeaks, said Sen. Joe Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut.
WikiLeaks confirmed it hours after The Associated Press reported that Amazon’s servers had stopped hosting WikiLeaks’ site. The site was unavailable for several hours before it moved back to its previous Swedish host, Bahnhof AB.
WikiLeaks released a trove of sensitive diplomatic documents on Sunday. Just before the release, its website came under an Internet-based attack that made it unavailable for hours at a time.
WikiLeaks reacted by moving the website from computers in Sweden to those of Amazon Web Services. Amazon has vast banks of computers that can be rented on a self-service basis to meet surges in traffic.
WikiLeaks, predictably, reacted as most lefties do…
“WikiLeaks servers at Amazon ousted. Free speech the land of the free–fine our $ are now spent to employ people in Europe,” the organization said Wednesday in a posting on the Twitter messaging service.
“If Amazon are so uncomfortable with the first amendment, they should get out of the business of selling books,” WikiLeaks said in another tweet.
For the clueless folks over at WikiLeaks, here’s a quick primer on the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
The Bill of Rights applies to the government… in fact, it restricts what the government can do. The First Amendment, therefore, applies to government censorship of speech, not to private companies. A private company can decide to do business with whomever they wish, within certain legal limits, and they can also decide not to do business with someone. That’s how American bookstores can get away with not stocking certain books, either those that don’t sell or those that they have a moral or philosophical objection to. Thus, a Christian bookstore doesn’t have to stock Playboy.
Web hosting companies are the same way. They can–and do–pick and choose what types of content they will carry on their servers. Some companies won’t host adult websites. Some won’t host e-commerce sites. Some will handle either or both of those, but charge more for them. That’s all allowed under the First Amendment, because it’s not the government censoring the speech, it’s a private entity (company) exercising its private property rights on its own property (the web servers).
So, Amazon was perfectly within its rights to bump WikiLeaks off their servers. And, it was probably a good idea. Amazon, as a company that’s in the business of selling books to as many people as they can, doesn’t need the controversy of WikiLeaks being on their servers to drive away business.
Amazon 1, WikiLeaks 0.