Can We Use Amazon's Cloud for Free Speech?

As far as I know the issues around Amazon's decision to evict WikiLeaks from its cloud hosting service, EC2, have not been discussed in the tech blogosphere. If I've missed the discussion, please post pointers in a comment on this post. I want to read what has been said.

In a previous post on my website Scripting News, Matt Terenzio,who works as a system manager at a small Connecticut newspaper, said that basically Amazon can't be used to host independent news. I quoted Matt in my talk at the PDF conference a couple of Saturdays ago. What he says is not only true, but very important to journalists and bloggers.

A version of this post originally appeared on Scripting News.

Initially, I said that I wouldn't take my sites off Amazon because of their decision to not host WikiLeaks. I'm re-thinking that, but I want the benefit of a really good examination. Perhaps Amazon would like a chance to clarify their intentions, now that that the dust has settled. What would they like their customers to think about this, as it relates to their work?

Where would I move my sites? Do other vendors have a more clear statement of what they will and won't do under pressure from the US government?

We need to look at this dispassionately as possible.

The question is this: What service-level guarantees do we need from vendors to make it possible to use their services in our public writing.

Can we use S3 and EC2 to host free speech? Not a question I ask lightly, since this blog is hosted, as of 12/24/10, on EC2.

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Dave Winer is a visiting scholar in journalism at NYU, editor of Scripting News, and the innovator behind RSS, podcasting and blogging technology.

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