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Thursday, 2 December 2010

Not Shopping at Amazon

Dear Sir or Madam,

I was distressed to read in the Guardian that you quit hosting wikileaks's website (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/dec/01/wikileaks-website-cables-servers-amazon). I had intended to do all of my Christmas shopping with Amazon.com, but instead, I'll find an online retailer who does not practice censorship. I'm very disappointed by this and I hope you change your mind.

Thank you for your time,
C Hutchins

Sooooo..... anybody got any suggestions about from where I should mail-order gifts for my family in the US?

First of all, I think the wikileaks thing is really cool. On the one hand, it is a problem for diplomats if they can't write frank assessments for fear of seeing them in newspapers. But, on the other hand, there's so much unnecessary and undemocratic secrecy that the embarrassment of the diplomatic corps is a small issue by comparison.

Also, the leaks don't seem to be actually making the US look as bad as I thought they would. The bad behaviour (bombing and lying about it) was already fairly well known. I didn't know, however, that the US was being pressured by Arab states to declare war on Iran. I would have guessed the opposite. So I'm happy to learn the US has been resisting this course of action. Also, the the cables about Sarkozy and others are really fascinating.

I'm also very happy to hear that banks are next. This is whistle-blowing on a large scale.

They keep telling us that if we've done nothing wrong, we have nothing to fear. Well, large, powerful organisations like governments and banks actually should be accountable to society at large, so prying into their secrets actually serves a useful purpose whereas CCTV cameras pointing into our windows do not. If the banks hadn't destroyed the economy, I'm sure the prospect fo seeing their memos leaked would be much less pertinent. So I hope wikileaks keeps it up. Also, Manning is a hero, assuming he did it.

What's not cool is Amazon giving in to government pressure. This is part of why I'm very wary of using US-based web services. Certainly EU governments do censor things, but the land of the free and home of the brave seems to be full of corporations who cooperate very easily. Also, as far as government goes, the Patriot Act gives them the right to spy on us, which is also not really what you want from your IT provider.

In short, Amazon pulling the plug makes the US, and especially US-based companies, look worse than the leaked documents do.

But seriously, from where should I order Christmas gifts? And what does one get for a 2 year old, anyway?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Try this: http://www.philosophersguild.com/index.lasso?page_mode=Home

I think they still have the Marx, Trotsky and Lenin Finger Puppets.

I wanted to commend you on your restraint in language to Amazon. I called them "flaming wankers".

J.