« Accepted! | Main | Two Towers... the flash movie(s) »

April 09, 2003

"It is unAmerican to provide web services to nonAmerican media sources. Oh, and technology is apolitical... right :)"

Julia D sent this to me a couple of days ago. Akamai Cancels a Contract for Arabic Network's Site (registration required). I rant on enough about the cultural hegemony inherent in the actual structure, utilities, encoding and code of the internet. I sometimes forget to look at what's going on on the surface. In this case, it is unAmerican to provide web services to nonAmerican media sources. [Full text of the article is below, in case you're worried about the registration fro NYT getting you dumped on an unAmerican government list] Akamai Cancels a Contract for Arabic Network's Site April 4, 2003 By WARREN ST. JOHN In a move sure to complicate the efforts of Al Jazeera, the Arabic news network, to get its English-language Web site running, Akamai Technologies abruptly canceled a contract on Wednesday to provide Web services for the site. Employees at Al Jazeera headquarters in Doha, Qatar, said they were frustrated by the decision, though not entirely surprised. ""It has nothing to do with technical issues,"" said Joanne Tucker, the managing editor of the English-language site. ""It's nonstop political pressure on these companies not to deal with us."" Akamai, based in Cambridge, Mass., would not comment on the reason for the cancellation. But Jeff Young, a company spokesman, issued a statement confirming that Akamai would no longer do business with Al Jazeera. ""Akamai worked briefly this week with Al Jazeera to understand the issues they are having distributing their Web sites,"" he said. ""We ultimately decided not to continue a customer relationship with Al Jazeera, and we are not going to be providing them our services."" The English version of Al Jazeera's Web site was shut by hackers roughly 12 hours after it went online on March 25. For a time, Web users trying to gain access were directed to a Web page bearing an American flag. Akamai, whose clients include MSNBC and CNN, maintains a broad network of servers that provide protection from hacking attempts. It was for that reason, Ms. Tucker said, that Al Jazeera hired the company. ""Basically this was our answer to the hacking that has been nonstop and pretty aggressive,"" she said. ""We had a done-and-dusted deal on March 28. Then yesterday, we get a letter from them terminating the contract."" Akamai's decision is one in a series of headaches for Al Jazeera since the start of the war. Defense Department officials criticized the network for showing images of dead and captured American soldiers. After that episode, the network's American financial correspondents were banned from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq. On Wednesday, Iraqi officials expelled one Jazeera correspondent from Baghdad and barred another from reporting there. American officials have also accused the network of unduly emphasizing civilian casualties in Iraq. Al Jazeera contends that much of the traffic that shut down its site was from Web users simply curious about its coverage. The search engine Lycos reported yesterday that ""Al Jazeera"" was its most-searched-for term last week. Ms. Tucker said that Al Jazeera hoped to have its English site up within 24 hours, but that without Akamai's many servers, the site would be more vulnerable to hacking attempts. The site went live just after 7 p.m. last night. ""It doesn't derail us,"" she said. ""We can withstand the hacking up to a point, but if they focus it all on one server it would put a lot of pressure on that server. ""We hope that won't be the case,"" she added. ""We're working on it all the time."" Ms. Tucker called the hacking attempts ""pathetic."" ""It's a narrow, pro-censorship attempt to silence a news site,"" she said. This is not the first time that Akamai has had to deal first-hand with tensions between the Arab world and the United States. The company's co-founder and chief technology officer, Daniel Lewin, 31, was on American Airlines Flight 11 on Sept. 11, 2001, when the plane crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center. http://www.nytimes.com/2003/04/04/technology/04WEB.html?ex=1050593603&ei=1&en=9e9846594854ea35 HOW TO ADVERTISE"

Posted by jason at April 9, 2003 08:27 AM