Parler Accuses Amazon of Breaking Antitrust Law in Suspending Hosting Services

Parler said losing Amazon’s services would be a “death knell,” though other platforms popular with the far right and conspiracy theorists, like Gab and 8chan, have recovered after being terminated by hosting providers.

David J. Groesbeck, a sole practitioner intellectual property lawyer in Olympia, Wash., filed the suit for Parler.

Separately, data of Parler users was posted online in a searchable database on the website by a lone researcher, who goes by the Twitter alias “@donk_enby.”

The researcher started archiving all Parler posts on Jan. 6, the date of the Capitol riots, but Amazon’s threat to shutter the service sent the effort into overdrive. By Monday, she claimed to have captured more than 99 percent of Parler’s content, including content they had deleted, in a permanent searchable record. The content included posts, images and more than a million videos, some with the geolocation of those who captured and posted video from the Capitol riots.

“Because of how it was obtained, it’s unclear whether the Parler data will be used for prosecution, but there is a lot there that law enforcement can use to build leads,” said Roman Sannikov, director of cybercrime and underground intelligence at Recorded Future.

Security experts said that while the Parler scrape was not a hack, it indicated a security failure. “With any application that is used by millions of users comes a responsibility to safeguard it,” said Alex Holden, of the Milwaukee-based cybersecurity firm Hold Security. “Letting someone obtain a bulk copy of all the posts and videos is irresponsible.”

Parler has advertised itself as not collecting as much data on users as Facebook and Twitter. But Parler’s own privacy policy said it collected users’ Social Security numbers, geolocation, phone manufacturer and carrier, and mobile activities, which may prove critical for law enforcement investigations.

The researcher also discovered that Parler had content moderation tools in place, but apparently did not use them consistently to take down violent extremist content. Parler didn’t respond to a request for comment about the data scraping.

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