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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Wikileaks censorship

Amazon.com removed WikiLeaks from its servers on 1 December 2010 at 19:30 GMT. U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman, among the members of the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee who had questioned Amazon in private communication on the company's hosting of WikiLeaks and the illegally obtained documents, commended Amazon for the action; WikiLeaks, however, responded by stating on its official Twitter page that "WikiLeaks servers at Amazon ousted. Free speech the land of the free—fine our $ are now spent to employ people in Europe", and later that "If Amazon is so uncomfortable with the first amendment, they should get out of the business of selling books".

Official efforts by the U.S. government to limit access to, conversation about, and general spread of the cables leaked by WikiLeaks were revealed by leading media organizations. A 4 December 2010 article by MSNBC, reported that the Obama administration has warned federal government employees and students in educational institutions studying towards careers in public service that they must refrain from downloading or linking to any WikiLeaks documents. However, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley denied ordering students, stating, "We do not control private networks. We have issued no authoritative instructions to people who are not employees of the Department of State." He said the warning was from an "overzealous employee. According to a 3 December 2010 article in The Guardian, access to WikiLeaks has been blocked for federal workers. The U.S. Library of Congress, the U.S. Commerce Department and other government agencies have confirmed that the ban is already in place. Some Department of Homeland Security staff say the ban is hampering their work;"More damage will be done by keeping the federal workforce largely in the dark about what other interested parties worldwide are going to be reading and analysing." One official says that the ban apparently covers personal computers as well.

A spokesman for Columbia University confirmed on 4 December that its Office of Career Services sent an e-mail warning students at Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs to refrain from accessing WikiLeaks cables and discussing this subject on the grounds that "discourse about the documents would call into question your ability to deal with confidential information". However, this was quickly retracted on the following day. SIPA Dean John Henry Coatsworth wrote that "Freedom of information and expression is a core value of our institution,  thus, SIPA’s position is that students have a right to discuss and debate any information in the public arena that they deem relevant to their studies or to their roles as global citizens, and to do so without fear of adverse consequences.
The New York Times reported on 14 December that the U.S. Air Force bars its personnel from access to news sites (such as those of The New York Times and The Guardian) that publish leaked cables.
On 18 December, the Bank of America stopped handling payments for WikiLeaks. Bank of America is also blocking access to WikiLeaks from its internal network preventing employees from accessing WikiLeaks.

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