WikiLeaks Cables for Sale on Amazon
Considering that Amazon booted WikiLeaks from its web hosting services last week for violating its terms of service, it’s a little ironic that Amazon UK is selling a Kindle book containing the leaked US diplomatic embassy cables that WikiLeaks is getting in so much trouble for hosting on its website. For £7.37 ($11.63), you can download the ebook “WikiLeaks documents expose US foreign policy conspiracies. All cables with tags from 1- 5000,” which contains 1541 KB of the leaked material. Note that the full content of the 250,000 cables purportedly in WikiLeaks’ possession could not possibly be contained in this book; even if it was a straight ASCII dump, it’d be 770,500 characters long, and the diplomatic cables leaked thus far have generally been more than three characters long. But recently leaked cables are there.
The book is currently selling well: It’s #431 overall among paid items in the Kindle Store, and the #7 bestseller among Kindle eBooks on Politics & Current Affairs. It is not, however, very well rated at present, with many reviewers criticizing Amazon for making a commission on the sale of the very leaked cables for which it kicked WikiLeaks off its servers.
The ‘author,’ Heinz Duthel, promises a more thorough analysis of the documents “in a subsequent article. A prolific ebook author, he has 383 books for sale in the Kindle store, including a magazine on the Bilderberg conspiracy, a book on Miley Cyrus’ journey “from Disney Child Star to Top Pop Star,” a history of anarchism, and a book called “Discovering Asian Women.”
In truth, Amazon probably doesn’t know that the book is on its marketplace, and if its response to the flap over a book called “The Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure” is any indication, there’s a good chance it’ll pull the title if news of this spreads. But in a sense, that doesn’t matter: Sites like Amazon can’t possibly monitor all of the user-generated content that comes through their pipelines, and they’re generally not held legally responsible to do so. If they pull this book today, ten sellers could publish the same leaked cables tomorrow; odds are, some already are. For all the furor over WikiLeaks itself, which Danny Sullivan confidently asserts “will never be closed or blocked,” the information it has unleashed is yet more impossible to block, as shown by its tricky ability to move through established channels of commerce.
Update: Amazon defends the book as such: “This book contains commentary and analysis regarding recent WikiLeaks disclosures, not the original material disclosed via the WikiLeaks website.” Note that it does contain excerpts from the WikiLeaks leaks, just not the complete cable dump.
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