WikiLeaks's fresh revelations shed light on ties between Amazon, US intelligence services

10:14 AM | 12 Oct, 2018
WikiLeaks's fresh revelations shed light on ties between Amazon, US intelligence services
A whistle-blowing platform, WikiLeaks, has published what it claimed as a “highly confidential” document pilfered from the cloud computing provider Amazon.

Naming the document "Amazon Atlas", the anti-secrecy organization claimed on Thursday: "The document from late 2015 lists the addresses and some operational details of over one hundred data centers spread across fifteen cities in nine countries". It also highlighted the company’s ongoing links with the US intelligence community.

To accompany this document, WikiLeaks also created a map showing where Amazon’s data centers are located.

"Amazon, which is the largest cloud provider, is notoriously secretive about the precise locations of its data centers. While a few are publicly tied to Amazon, this is the exception rather than the norm. More often, Amazon operates out of data centers owned by other companies with little indication that Amazon itself is based there too or runs its own data centers under less-identifiable subsidiaries such as VaData, Inc," the press release said.

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Highlighting its links with the US secret agencies, the WikiLeaks said: "Amazon is the leading cloud provider for the United States intelligence community. In 2013, Amazon entered into a $600 million contract with the CIA to build a cloud for use by intelligence agencies working with information classified as Top Secret. Then, in 2017, Amazon announced the AWS Secret Region, which allows storage of data classified up to the Secret level by a broader range of agencies and companies. Amazon also operates a special GovCloud region for US Government agencies hosting unclassified information".

Currently, Amazon is one of the leading contenders for an up to $10 billion contract to build a private cloud for the Department of Defense. Amazon is one of the only companies with the certifications required to host classified data in the cloud, read the release.

"The Defense Department is looking for a single provider and other companies, including Oracle and IBM, have complained that the requirements unfairly favor Amazon. Bids on this contract are due tomorrow".

"Until now, this cloud infrastructure controlled by Amazon was largely hidden, with only the general geographic regions of the data centers publicised," it added.

In the process of dispelling the mystery around the locations of Amazon’s data centers, WikiLeaks also turned this document into a puzzle game, the Quest of Random Clues. The goal of this game was to encourage people to research these data centers in a fun and intriguing way, while highlighting related issues such as contracts with the intelligence community, Amazon’s complex corporate structures, and the physicality of the cloud.

Amazon did not give response over the release so far.

WikiLeaks has been relatively silent since March, when the internet connection of founder Julian Assange's internet access was blocked inside London’s Ecuadorean Embassy, where he has been living under asylum since 2012.

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Last year, the whistle-blowing firm published emails from Democratic Party officials and a series of disclosures about alleged Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) hacking tools.

Last month, Julian Assange left the position of editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks but retained the title of publisher. He was replaced by journalist, and former spokesman, Kristinn Hrafnsson.