Draft of a letter to Amazon.com

I would like to continue shopping at Amazon.com, recommending Amazon, and maintaining a website as an Amazon Associate. Like most customers who are evaluating a boycott of Amazon, I am a satisfied and loyal customer, and have spent and saved a great deal of money shopping online at Amazon, and encouraged others to do so as well.

However, it is being reported that Amazon has ceased hosting WikiLeaks.org on the basis of political pressure from Senator Joe Lieberman and possibly others. According to the NYT, “The move to drop WikiLeaks came shortly after members of the Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee pressed the company to explain its relationship with WikiLeaks.” It is not believable that Amazon’s hosting service could have been unaware of the content served by the high-profile, high-traffic site until it was brought to the company’s attention by congressmen; therefore, it seems likely that threats were made or implied.

If this is true, I am deeply concerned that Amazon would yield immediately to pressure from politicians, and particularly on the basis of a mere inquiry from Joe Lieberman’s staffers, as has been reported. It has alternately been reported that Lieberman may have threatened a boycott, but Amazon now faces an actual boycott of customers, not congressmen.

Amazon should not be in the business of responding to politicians’ requests, or anticipating legal intentions of prosecutors. Amazon should support free speech under the legal process. In the absence of a court order, and without benefit of due process, WikiLeaks should not be judged on the basis of mere political accusation. Amazon should not have shut down the server access WikiLeaks paid for, especially without notification.

Thousands of Amazon customers who are weighing a boycott are only asking for WikiLeaks to be treated like any customer of hosting services, even though we believe WikiLeaks provides an important service, has tremendous value to political free speech, and is an invaluable resource for citizens and journalists.

I am also concerned that Amazon has not properly responded publicly to clarify the issue. I look forward to hearing that Amazon has responded and rectified the situation, so that I may continue to shop at Amazon, and encourage others to do so.

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6 responses to “Draft of a letter to Amazon.com

  1. If you are interested in my argument for why—in this particular case—it is fair to explore a boycott, while giving Amazon an opportunity to clarify what happened and their position, and to change their position, see my comments below the following blog post:

    http://www.antiwar.com/blog/2010/12/01/boycott-amazon-com/

    Ideally, there would be a more direct way to respond to Joe Lieberman and his ilk. However, we have a great deal more influence with our purchasing dollar, expressing concern over freedom of speech and attaching a dollar cost to unnecessarily folding like a bad hand of poker for a corporate business like Amazon.

  2. I sent this to jeff@amazon.com, thinking that Jeff Bezos’ supposed email might be a better first destination than generic customer service. If I am obliged to close my account, of course, I’ll make sure to tell them why. I hope they say or do something satisfactory instead!

  3. Well, Amazon has responded officially, but it’s not what I was hoping for:

    http://news.antiwar.com/2010/12/02/amazoncoms-excuse-wikileaks-harming-people/

    Clearly, these claims by Amazon are implausible, and subtly obsequious.

  4. Pingback: Don’t lie to your customers, Amazon. And don’t toady to the fascists. | Wisdom Dancer

  5. Pingback: Legal procedure and business ethics aren’t too much to expect from Amazon | Wisdom Dancer

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