Amazon orders Signal to stop using AWS to defeat censorship


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/05/02/domain-fronting-considered.html


#2

Hmm. Now if it was distributed app, their blocklist would have to be complicated.


#3

This is bad news for Signal users. Hard to blame Amazon/Google for not wanting hop-ons, though.

I bet Signal will adapt, or else another app will take it’s place.


#4

I dunno. It’s pretty easy for me to see Google and Amazon as caring more about the whims of oppressive human rights abusers than they do the people being abused. If they wanted to be seen as good corporate citizens they would support the people helping the oppressed communicate and organize for a better world.


#5

So a tool can be used both by people I like to do good things, and people I dislike to do bad things??

No shit. I never woulda thought of that.


#6

Maybe I’m a cynic*, but I see it more as those corporations are unwilling to risk losing access to all of those potential customers, rather than caring about the whims of the abusers.

If they stood behind Signal, a service they know are “good actors” and forced the oppressive regimes to cut out huge swathes of the internet to stop the signal, then the people in those countries might be further incentivized to rise up against the oppressive government. But maybe I’m too naive**.

*I’m a cynic.
**I’m naive.


#7

Let this be a lesson to us all about depending on large corporations for defense of liberties. They care nothing for them; their job is only, and strictly to care about making money. And Bad People generally have a lot of it and the “smart move” is always to support Bad People, be they the Mafia, Terrorists, or a state actor. Ask HSBC, they laundered money for all of them.

Moreover, HSBC was not prosecuted even after they were caught, they were SUCH a large company.

The question I’m asking, is why do we not have our own state-level response to this. The allegedly “free” nations of the world, the ones run by democracy of some sort, control the internet; without them, no net to speak of. Why don’t we just really cut them off the internet if they block signal?


#8

Well, I mean, it’s Jeff Bezos. He’s not a “good guy” he’s a guy who is perfectly okay with the fact that his warehouse workers end up doing things like wearing adult diapers and pissing in bottles to avoid coming in under quota.

And while we’re at it? If the Google “don’t be evil” canary wasn’t already dead enough for you, the fact that they’ve done the same thing should settle any uncertainty that you may have.


#9

You see it as that, because that’s exactly what it is. They care more about selling products to those people than the people themselves. It’s a microcosmic example of a great deal of what’s wrong about capitalism.


#10

I find it perfectly easy to blame them. They weighed “human rights” versus “size of potential sales market” and chose the latter. They decided that the ability to advertise and sell products to an oppressed people is more important than the rights and freedoms of those same people.

It’s not a question of “hop-ons” and a question of what makes them the most money. Signal pays less to Amazon AWS than Amazon stands to make from selling products to people trapped in oppressive regimes, plus those oppressive regimes will probably be very “friendly” toward whatever labor practices Jeff Bezos decides to subject his employees in those countries to.


#11

Yes.

Consider this an aside, we complain about the problems of capitalism, but I don’t think we can expect any economic model to be free of humans being cruel to one another. Having said that #LATESTAGECAPITALISM


#12

The Trump Administration uses Signal, too.


#13

You’re correct, the solution to human cruelty isn’t just as easy as adopting a different economic model. At the same time, economic models definitely influence human behavior, which is really what I was getting at. Capitalism’s entire mantra is one that encourages barbarism and cruelty.

And?


#14

If Amazon continues to allow Signal to use AWS, then presumably Amazon will be blocked in the relevant countries. Then neither Amazon nor Signal will be available.

I don’t think there’s an outcome where Signal is able to continue in its current mode. It needs to adapt, and the evidence suggest that it can do just that. After, its use of Google and Amazon were both adaptations.

My point regarding the Trump Administration is that Signal is not inherently noble. It’s just a tool, and can be used for evil as readily as good. Why would anyone have a moral obligation to facilitate that if they don’t want to?


#15

We yeah. Signal could potentially use every working client (or participating clients) to get socket connections to countries where they are banned. Its not uncommon to use AWS and google cloud to spread your application across the internet. I am aware of applications which do just that. Its more about who complains, and how high the complaint goes at Amazon I suppose.


#16

Signal is overwhelmingly used by individuals to bypass censorship and domestic spying. The Trump organization only uses it because they are physically addicted to skullduggery and mafioso bullshit, and by using a civilian messaging service, they can continue (or at least attempt) to conduct themselves in questionable or outright illegal ways almost purely for their own sake. That’s how Trump has always run things, like a wannabe mobster, and his regime is no different.

I’m sure that a lot of other unscrupulous people use it for unscrupulous reasons, too.

My point is that you have to observe the net good something provides to humanity rather than which individual bad actors are using it. We live in an era of extreme power concentration, not just in the US, but the world over. Victories that should have never been won like the DMCA and PATRIOT act are so old that nobody talks about them very much anymore even though each is in itself an egregious piece of legislation that warrants people walking off of jobs and marching through streets to end.

Things like Signal give everyone else a tiny sliver of a fighting chance, so if Amazon or Google cared about people more than they care about money, they would side with the people and not the oppressive regime. It’s possible that Iran would block Amazon or Google, but that would effectively block or at least break most of web and most of the most popular web services, which would make people pretty angry, perhaps even angry enough to want to do something about it.

Therein lies the betrayal. Iran knows that, every dictator at this point knows that, which is why they all want to be able to filter shit rather than having to resort to blocking huge swaths of the internet. People in Iran or Syria or everywhere are just as addicted to Facebook and Instagram as Americans and Europeans, and if you’re the guy responsible for choking that off, you’re going to be waking up to a pretty bad scene come tomorrow. They know this, which is why a deal was made.

If Amazon cared, Amazon would say, “nope, go ahead and block us and see how people react,” but instead they said, “oh yeah, definitely, we’ll be complicit in the oppression of your people in order to continue to be able to sell them shit and exploit their labor.” Same goes for Google.


#17

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