NYTimes.com Article: Akamai Cancels a Contract for Arabic Network's Site

khare at alumni.caltech.edu khare at alumni.caltech.edu
Sat Apr 5 17:24:06 PST 2003

This article from NYTimes.com 
has been sent to you by khare at alumni.caltech.edu.

Points to the Times for remembering the connection to Lewin, but they don't note explicitly that he was Jewish and in the Israeli armed forces. None of which requires a particularly exotic conspiracy theory to explain. Internet infrastructure is private, from Google to Akamai to Worldcom, so whatever you think of this decision, the beauty is that there are other providers in a decentralized system.


khare at alumni.caltech.edu

Akamai Cancels a Contract for Arabic Network's Site

April 4, 2003


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

The site went live just after 7 p.m. last night. 

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

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. 


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