Boycotting Amazon and PayPal

After the events the last week I see no other alternative but to boycott Amazon and PayPal. I wanted to just very quickly make a note here that I have closed my accounts with both, and explain why.

Amazons decision to stop hosting WikiLeaks is said to have been based on terms-of-use violations, however – these violations didn’t stop Amazon from hosting WL the last two times – and there are many other web sites on Amazon that have likewise questionable content. If anyone where to write a book based on the WikiLeaks diplomatic cables, would Amazon not sell it then? I can’t help but believe that the real reason Amazon stopped hosting WikiLeaks had to do with pressure applied from Joe Lieberman and the US Government. As far as outside observers can determine, there seems to have been no legal process – but rather just a phone call from Liebermans department. It sets a very dangerous precedent when a large company and a de-facto common carrier folds like this from Government pressure.

Very quickly after Amazon folded, Tableau Software decided to do the same without any contact from Liebermans department.

On Saturday, it was announced that PayPal had decided to follow suit and cancel WikiLeaks donation account.

For many reasons, these three incidents have convinced me that I have to make a moral stand and boycott Amazon and PayPal – I have cancelled my accounts. I urge you to do the same if you feel that the last few days events have been a dangerous precedent.

32 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. Good for you. I agree.

    December 6th, 2010

  2. jp

    I have already been doing the same.

    Everytime I research a Christmas gift, I avoid the Amazon link!

    Obama is just like Nixon, keeping an enemy list.

    December 6th, 2010

  3. Peter Hamilton

    Lame. I disagree.

    December 6th, 2010

  4. Brad Mon

    Good Argument Peter. I’m convinced!

    December 6th, 2010

  5. Bob Robertson

    Amazon might not want to be in the business of hosting classified data and the target of DDOS attacks.

    It’s rather business risky to be associated with Wikileaks and these companies probably want to avoid that.

    December 6th, 2010

  6. I for one am glad that both Amazon and Paypal have dropped Wikileaks accounts. Wikileaks did indeed violate the ToS of both. And regardless of past instances, it is well within their rights to enforce their policies even if it was overlooked before.

    Wikileaks is not a journalistic entity, and the materials they are posting are stolen US Government property, which means that Wikileaks has committed a crime. This is not about their freedom of speach, it is about them not having the right to post things illegally.

    I will say though, that I also disagree with those who call for the assassination of Julian Assange. I believe that is going to far, and to do so would be immoral. If anything the US Government should try to bring up criminal charges and give him a fair trial in a court of law, as is the right of every human being.

    December 6th, 2010

  7. More power to you.

    I’m pretty sure Amazon and PayPal would lose a small number of people than be in a position which puts their business in jeopardy.

    At the end of the day, just like Bob said, it’s classified data.

    December 6th, 2010

  8. Well done, Ola. You have balls, unlike these companies (EveryDNS, I’m looking at you) that bend over backwards to accommodate any request, no matter how unlawful.
    EveryDNS also posted this:

    “we know this much is true – we believe in our New Hampshire state motto, Live Free or Die.”

    I find that exceptionally funny. EveryDNS – maybe it’s time for you to die as a company?

    **The governments should be scared of the people, and not the other way around.***

    December 6th, 2010

  9. Jake Jacobsen

    The only message this boycott is sending is that it was a huge mistake for Amazon to be involved with WikiLeaks in the first place. It sends a clear message to other companies that might be thinking about supporting similar things to stay far away from them, because it might put them in a situation where they are either attacked by the government or attacked by their customers. Why would any business owner want to put their business at risk like that?

    If you don’t like what the US government is doing then boycott the US government. It’s stupid to hurt organizations that have been fighting for your causes just because they stopped fighting.

    December 6th, 2010

  10. anon

    A book based on the cables would not violate Amazon’s terms of service.

    December 6th, 2010

  11. > If anything the US Government should try to bring up criminal charges and give him a fair trial in a court of law, as is the right of every human being.

    You are insane. He is not even a citizen of the USA – why should he be under trial by your country’s laws? Would you go to jail for what other countries think is wrong?
    What the hell is wrong with you people? Can’t you understand that USA != world?

    December 6th, 2010

  12. claudio

    Can’t you see that this is not about wikileaks story nor infringing rules or terms of services … it is about freedom of speech and free journalism .
    Assange didn’t steal informations ! he just received them and then , as every good Journalist should do , published them, .
    It’s not Assange’s fault , its the people who actually live double lives and chase for easy money and power ! If you hide nothing you have to fear nothing . easy .

    Needeless to say , I close both my paypal accounts !

    Peace .

    December 6th, 2010

  13. @Andres,

    I assure you I am not insane. You do not need to be a US citizen to be tried in a US court, and vis a versa. If I committed a crime in or against another country, I to could potentially end up going to court. There are also international courts.

    Also, I understand full well that there is a world beyond the USA. I lived a great deal of my life (18 of my 28yrs) outside of America, so please, spare me your stereotyping.

    @Caludio: “as every good Journalist should do , published them, .”
    Seriously? You know nothing of journalism. There is a moral responsibility when it comes to journalism, at least good journalism, to consider the source, the potential risk and damage that a story my have. Wikileaks has shown not one ounce of moral responsibility, or even a consideration for the lives it may put at risk, not to mention the damage to world affairs. It could set back diplomacy internationally for a long time, which could damage even more lives. No Wikileaks is not good journalism, is aiding in the theft and disimination of private property.

    December 6th, 2010

  14. > I assure you I am not insane. You do not need to be a US citizen to be tried in a US court, and vis a versa.

    If you are not in the country, whatever that country thinks you did has no merit whatsoever. I doubt you understand what you are talking about.

    As for international courts, they clearly don’t apply to this case – and if they did, what about putting your own Mrs. Clinton to jail for spying on foreign diplomats? That’s a lot worse than releasing a bunch of documents to the public.

    If you really want to send someone to jail, how about finding the traitor who first gave the documents to wikileaks? It’s a problem of your own doing, and I will not stand whilst you cry like little babies for what your government is clearly incapable of handling.

    What’s next? Are you going to ask a-la-Sarah Palin to try Assange as a traitor? I’d like to see you defending her.

    December 6th, 2010

  15. Mats Henricson

    Ola, I admire your guts! It is simple for me, in Sweden, to rage against the insanity, but you live in the US. You are much more likely to have to defend your views than over here where everyone is shaking their heads to the current insane US reaction.

    December 6th, 2010

  16. P.S. Here’s a nice explanation of why the Wikileaks issue is more about social consciousness than about legal niceties:

    December 6th, 2010

  17. I am considering dropping my paypal and amazon accounts as well. I am seriously disappointed by their behaviour. For me, IT infrastructure is kind of a neutral common ground. Amazon is advertising itself as “infrastructure” and “clouds you can depend on”, btw. To my european and german friends i found myself often defending the anglo-saxian first amendment related culture. Even if it meant allowing fascist parties and factions to express their opinion.

    It also irritates me if some (many? i don’t know) of my US based IT friends in the Python and other communities appear to be indifferent or even supporting these policies. There are others, fortunately, and i hope that the wikileaks case serves as an opportunity to have good discussions and also think about our responsibility and how we want the future internet infrastructure to work.

    December 6th, 2010

  18. I congratulate you for this brave, honest post. I also posted a call to boycott Amazon and Paypal. I have no respect for people who collude with this monstrous assault against freedom, democracy and justice throughout the world – and I think THIS is what it is., the campaign of persecution against Julian Assange.

    If some of the material released by Wikileaks is disturbing, or -even- damaging, it’s 100% a responsibility of the people who leaked it, but these people are NOT Wikileaks. Wikileaks is the future, the only little part of it that has the power to defend democracy, human rights, and everything worth defending. If its revelations ever cause suffering, or human lives to be lost, then _perhaps_ it can be blamed, or even sued appropriately. But at the moment there is NO evidence for this, while the American army’s total insensitivity to human suffering, torture and murder of civilians has remained unpunished. Wikileaks IS justice, for those victims of human rights abuses, and it must be defended.

    Finally, as regards the ridiculous rape charges, against Assange, they are a disgrace for Sweden as a whole, ALREADY proved totally false.

    December 7th, 2010

  19. Martin R-L

    @JONATHAN MILLER: FYI: “The United States is not a member of the International Criminal Court (ICC).”

    BTW; I’m about to close my Amazon and PayPal accounts as well.

    December 7th, 2010

  20. Olivier

    > I will say though, I also disagree with those who call for the assassination of Julian Assange. I believe that is going to far, and to do so would be immoral.

    The single fact that you felt the need to express your disagreement with a murder (as if it could be a good idea) reveals a lot. Reactions in the US must be so misguided, so oversized, that I cannot even (and don’t want to) understand.

    December 7th, 2010

  21. felix

    The journalistic value of these documents is almost zero. In the age of twitter it seems acceptable to just throw out a lot of “news”, but there is little we didn’t know before. The idea of wholesale publication of private data however I do find rather scary…

    December 7th, 2010

  22. Mvh

    Good for you.

    And what about a government “for the people”? Everything is hidden from the people.

    December 7th, 2010

  23. vego

    His website is listed as a whistleblower website. and wistleblowing – both against a private sector employer and a government employer is a legally protected activity. and that is what they do. if it is in the public interest and if it uncovers illegal activity. like mixing spying and diplomacy or identity theft or any of the other illegal activities it reveals. so it is protected activity and it is journalism. Elsberg revealed far more damaging material and some of it was even more secret. and he spent only a few days in jail.


    and these revelations will keep us from engaging in more wars and killing more people – so his activities will contribute to a less violent and aggressive foreign policy. the gun in the alley concept. meaning if people have a concealed gun when walking in an alley they tend to provoke dangerous situations to use the gun. so i say. uncover the concealed agenda (gun) and force more peaceful fp.


    america has become a pain in the world’s ass. and i think it is time to boycott america. save for an occasional coke a cola, i already have.

    I now am moving my websites to switzerland.

    the 4% can not control the 96%, if the 96% don’t want to be controlled by the 4%. up until now we have allowed it. we do not allow it anymore.

    in the final stages of empire, the military budget and the the military agenda cannibalizes civilian government and turns the diplomatic corps into a spy/military weapon. all the 9 signs of imperial collapse have begun to show themselves in amerca. all 9.

    after hearing like 26 times to leave if i didn’t like what america was doing, so i did. i left america last year and life is way better in south america. and i can have up to 19 grams of weed on me at all times. and my rent in only 183 dollar per month, right on the beach. women are hotter and sweeter. i was tired of being lied to in america. I didn’t realize how much america sucked until i left. man having options is great. Good luck with your murder and empire and all.

    amazon and paypal r toast.

    December 7th, 2010

  24. vego

    if wikileaks was around in 2002, maybe we could have saved 1.2 million iraqi’s, – mostly civilian.

    i say if wikileaks saves even one life by forcing a more benign empire, it is worth any price. especially if it puts america soldiers at greater risk of death. it might make them more human if they realized what bullshit their bosses are up to.

    all americans are little eichmans if you ask me. i think Ward Churchill got that exactly right. obama included.

    December 7th, 2010

  25. Eric

    Congratulations Ola on taking such a strong stand. It is refreshing to see especially from a professional software developer. Journalists have seen the attacks on Wikileaks as attacks on themselves and defended it accordingly, but the loudest voices from the tech sector are those caught up in the mercenary business of defending US security interests it seems. Why is the open source community (in the US anyway) so quiet ?!

    As Vego points out, it is helpful to keep in mind this is not only an issue of freedom of speech but of *saving lives*. Exposing war crimes is not a crime.


    PS If Twitter starts to cave, I think we in the Ruby community especially have an obligation to make a collective statement of some kind to call on them to stand with Wikileaks.

    PPS. Let’s not forget Bradley Manning:

    December 7th, 2010

  26. @Felix:

    > The journalistic value of these documents is almost zero.

    You don’t care that Mrs. Clinton has been spying on foreign diplomats and even the UN Secretary-General? What do you care about, then, exactly?
    Do you understand that Mrs. Clinton is very likely on the way out because of these documents?
    What exactly were you expecting? Area 51 UFOs?

    December 7th, 2010

  27. felix

    Most of this stuff is not so far from Area 51 UFOs, loads of trivia. Perhaps I am a bit cynical, but I think the fact that when it comes to foreign policy the Americans are on the whole selfish and ignorant twats regardless of their political persuasion is well known among critically thinking people.

    However you are right that the Clinton spying thing is probably interesting, so I have no issue with that being published.
    The thing I don’t like is people imply the right to publish other peoples information on the internet as long a you didn’t use illegal means to acquire it.

    December 7th, 2010

  28. @Felix
    > Most of this stuff is not so far from Area 51 UFOs, loads of trivia.

    You obviously haven’t seen the actual cables:

    Don’t see any Area 51 stuff in there.

    > The thing I don’t like is people imply the right to publish other peoples information on the internet as long a you didn’t use illegal means to acquire it.

    This is called being a whistleblower. Check this out:

    – WikiLeaks Reveals That Military Contractors Have Not Lost Their Taste For Child Prostitutes

    Can you honestly tell me you don’t think this is something that should be out in the open, and the people responsible brought to justice?
    If it weren’t for wikileaks, we would not know about it.

    December 10th, 2010

  29. pete

    paypal is owned by ebay, which has a monoply of the internet auction market, unless this monoply is broken up, many small internet business have no options but to use the ebay which owns paypal. (this should really be looked at by the manoply commission

    December 11th, 2010

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