Amazon Web Services terminates Parler account, Parler responds with legal action…
As much as I admire Jeff Bezos and his entrepreneurial creation of Amazon, much like I admire the earlier entrepreneurial creation of Federal Express by Fred Smith, I have come to believe that Amazon Web Services represents a clear and present danger to free and open political discourse in the United States.
A little after 12:10 a.m. on Monday, Amazon terminated the public’s access to its servers that were hosting Parler, a lightweight alternative to Twitter that featured free and open access to all, with the usual caveats about postings of a criminal or grossly abusive nature. Like Amazon Web Services, Parler enjoyed the protections of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (47 U.S. Code § 230), which provides that, under certain circumstances, providers or users of an interactive computer service shall not be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by a third-party information or content provider and thus be exempt from civil liability if the information is inflammatory, insensitive, inappropriate, or defamatory. And yet, Amazon enjoying the privileges of Section 230, appears to be denying the same protections to the similarly situated Parler as they offer to their other customers like Twitter.
After being operationally crippled by Amazon’s actions, which are likely to destroy Parler as a profit-seeking enterprise and a free speech platform for political discussion, Parler filed a 19-page complaint (Case 2:21-cv-00031-BJR Filed 01/11/21) against Amazon Web Services seeking a temporary restraining order reversing the precipitous shut down of Parler along with remedies for violations of the Sherman Act, Section 1 (15 U.S. Code §1 – anti-trust, restraint of trade); Breach of Contract (not providing adequate termination notice); and Tortious Interference with a Contract or Business Expectancy (interference with Parler’s vendors and customers).
Does the First Amendment Free Speech Clause apply only to the Federal Government?
But while the Constitution’s Free Speech provisions (First Amendment) apply specifically to the federal government, can one make an argument that Amazon Web Services may be acting as an agent of the government or influenced by political concerns related to government activities. More specifically, considering the Supreme Court’s ruling in the 1945 case, Marsh v. Alabama, which posed the question: “Did Alabama violate Marsh's rights under the First and Fourteenth amendments by refusing to allow her to distribute religious material in the privately-owned town of Chickasaw?”
The court ruled … “In an opinion by Justice Hugo L. Black, the majority ruled in Marsh’s favor. The Court reasoned that a company town does not have the same rights as a private homeowner in preventing unwanted religious expression. While the town was owned by a private entity, it was open for use by the public, who are entitled to the freedoms of speech and religion. The Court employed a balancing test, weighing Chickasaw’s private property rights against Marsh’s right to free speech. The Court stressed that conflicts between property rights and constitutional rights should typically be resolved in favor of the latter.”
This is one of those First Amendment cases that are best left to constitutional lawyers to determine if Parler enjoyed the same speech protections and rights Amazon offered to its other customers, namely Twitter, which is alleged to have published similarly suspect material.
Is Amazon Web Services providing preferential treatment to Twitter and trying to kill a fast-growing rival?
Twitter has a lot going on, and it’s not always easy to manage that kind of scale on your own. Today, Amazon announced that Twitter has signed a multi-year agreement with AWS to run its real-time timelines. It’s a major win for Amazon’s cloud arm. While the companies have worked together in some capacity for over a decade, this marks the first time that Twitter is tapping AWS to help run its core timelines.
It is no secret that President Donald Trump has been de-platformed by the social media mavens and that even his official POTUS (President of the United States) account is subject to being censored, deleted, or tagged. Likewise, it is no secret that Parler may have approached Amazon Web Services for additional server capacity, perhaps in anticipation of some large fraction of the President’s 80-million followers that would join Donald Trump if he moved to Parler. A significant blow to Twitter.
Does Amazon Web Services have a multi-billion-dollar malign political motive and anti-Trump bias against Parler and its Trump-supporter users?
Excerpts from the AWS Public Sector Blog
JEDI: Why we will continue to protest this politically corrupted contract award
by AWS Public Sector Blog Team | on 04 SEP 2020 | in Defense, Government, Public Sector
Earlier today, the DoD announced it had concluded its corrective action and affirmed its prior JEDI contract award to Microsoft. Taking corrective action should have provided the DoD an opportunity to address the numerous material evaluation errors outlined in our protest, ensure a fair and level playing field, and ultimately, expedite the conclusion of litigation. Unfortunately, the DoD rejected that opportunity.
As we continue to pursue a fair and impartial review, and ensure our country gets the best possible technical capability to protect itself, we wanted to reflect on how and why we’ve arrived at this point.
AWS is honored to support our nation’s military, and extremely proud of our role in helping U.S. government customers achieve mission success. Today, over 6,500 government agencies rely on the AWS Cloud to achieve an unmatched level of security, agility, innovation, and reliability. It is our commitment to supporting the U.S. military, and our experience earning trust and helping deliver transformational results within the Intelligence Community, that led us to bid on JEDI. We felt strongly then, just as we do now, that our technology is uniquely suited to help our military maintain an edge on the digital battlefield of today, and tomorrow.
We also remain grounded in the facts: AWS is the clear leader in cloud computing, and by any objective measure, has superior technology. AWS has more services, and more features within those services, than any other cloud provider—by a large amount. AWS provides a more secure and more operationally performant offering, and remains the only cloud provider accredited to support the full range of U.S. government data classifications. AWS also has a much broader ecosystem of ISV and SaaS partners whose software runs on AWS, so customers can use the same software they’ve been running on-premises, in the cloud. We welcome competition, but any objective, apples-to-apples assessment based purely on the offerings, clearly leads to a different conclusion than the DoD made.
The ongoing dismissal of inspectors general across our government, civil servants who are entrusted to ensure ethical conduct, is another worrying trend. The President has removed perceived political threats from their roles simply for doing their jobs, including demoting the Acting DoD Inspector General just days before the release of the JEDI Report. A similar pattern has emerged within the DoD as senior military leadership cannot exercise their sound judgment without facing retribution. Even those who serve our country in the pursuit of justice and fairness under the law, have been sidelined by the President in favor of blatant cronyism. Likewise, the President has become emboldened of late in flaunting his role influencing government contracts for politically motivated reasons. When discussing a recent U.S. Navy award that selected a Wisconsin-based firm to build a new $5.5 billion frigate, President Trump stated, “I hear the maneuverability is one of the big factors that you were chosen for the contract…the other is your location in Wisconsin, if you want to know the truth.”
There is a recurring pattern to the way President Trump behaves when he’s called out for doing something egregious: first he denies doing it, then he looks for ways to push it off to the side, to distract attention from it and delay efforts to investigate it (so people get bored and forget about it). And then he ends up doubling down on the egregious act anyway. On JEDI, President Trump reportedly ordered former Secretary Mattis to “screw’” Amazon, blatantly interfered in an active procurement, directed his subordinate to conduct an unorthodox “review” prior to a contract award announcement and then stonewalled an investigation into his own political interference. “Corrective action” was used as a way to halt our litigation, delay further investigations and incorrectly give the appearance that only one issue needed to be fixed while giving the impression that the DoD was actually going to fix something. While corrective action can be used to efficiently resolve protests, in reality, this corrective action changed nothing, wasted five months that could have been spent getting to the bottom of these serious concerns, and was designed solely to distract from our broader concerns and reaffirm a decision that was corrupted by the President’s self-interest. When we opposed the DoD’s approach to corrective action, we predicted this would happen, and it has. By continuing to delay, distract, and avoid addressing these very serious issues, the DoD is turning out to be its own worst enemy with regard to speeding things along.
[OCS: It is clear, at least to me, that Amazon Web Services has an animus against President Donald Trump and may also look unkindly on any platform that gives rise to the voices of pro-Trump supporters. Not to mention currying favor with the incoming progressive administration that appears desperate to escape the accountability for unconstitutional and/or criminal acts allegedly committed by the prior progressive Obama administration, many of whose members will serve in the incoming administration.
Ironic that Amazon would mention “delay, distract, and avoid addressing serious issues,” which is the modus operandi of the progressive socialist Democrats with whom Amazon appears to be seeking favor.]
Considering the number of former government intelligence, law enforcement, and high-ranking agency personnel employed by Amazon to do its bidding, could we effectively construe Amazon to be acting as an agent of the government? Or even worse, a national security threat for their business interactions with a foreign hostile power like China?
AWS Cloud Enterprise Strategy Blog Getting Started with AWS Services in AWS China (Beijing) Region and AWS China (Ningxia) Region (Source)
While Amazon is doing great damage to Parler, one might ask what damage is it doing to our Country?
Let us not forget that Jeff Bezos also owns the Washington Post which has a reputation of lying and fabricating stories about constitutional conservatives like the recent one about Mark Levin and a memo he never received.
We are so screwed.