Wednesday afternoon, Tableau Software removed data visualizations published by WikiLeaks to Tableau Public. We understand this is a sensitive issue and want to assure the public and our users that this was not an easy decision, nor one that we took lightly.

We created Tableau Public—a free service that enables anyone to make interactive graphs from their data and share them online—because we recognized the need for strong analytics tools in a data-driven world. Given the controversy around the WikiLeaks data, we’ve closely followed the debate about who actually has the rights to the leaked data.

Our terms of service require that people using Tableau Public do not upload, post, email, transmit or otherwise make available any content that they do not have the right to make available. Furthermore, if we receive a complaint about a particular set of data, we retain the right to investigate the situation and remove any offending data, if necessary.

Our decision to remove the data from our servers came in response to a public request by Senator Joe Lieberman, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security Committee, when he called for organizations hosting WikiLeaks to terminate their relationship with the website.

This will inevitably be met with mixed reaction. However, our terms of service were created to ensure responsible use of data.

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Shame on you for being such a bunch of cowards.

The government doesn't need to restrict free speech when it can bully private organizations into doing the job for them. Lieberman is running a 24/7 campaign and you became his tool to achieve reelection. By manufacturing villains, he hopes to be seen as a hero and patriot. You've given him one more hollow victory in his drive for power. If I never see or hear about your company or its products again, it will be too soon. You've done your part to slowly destroy what once made this nation great. You should be ashamed of yourself.

I closed both my Paypal accounts. And I am not going to use your software anymore.

We all want freedom, but no one wants to step up and fight for it. The decision to back off just because one senator asked for it is pretty lame......

It hasn't even begun to get difficult. You choose the easier way out. At least you removed the visualizations and did not alter them. That would have been even more insidious. I applaud you for communicating your explanation even though it exposes your weakness.

Is the purchasing power of the government so large and the veiled threats so powerful that you comply with their opinions? What happened the the rule of law. You knew nothing was illegal or even morally wrong about the hosted visualizations yet you rolled over.

I no longer recommend your products. I use tableau, I met with Pat Hanrahan, I like what you do. I don't like how you go about it.

From here on out it is Hadoop, ProtoVis and R. I will not by choice ever use your software again.

So Senator Joe Lieberman claim the rights of that documents?
How do you ensure wikileaks don't have the rights of them?
Does any other person or organization claim that rights?
Did you have any probe that these are original documents, and have the information to check a rights violation on this case, or it is just a claim from other person to remove that documents?

Which people have the rights to ask you to remove documents, without legal rights verification?

This is not a claim for wikileaks, is just for my company to use your services or not.

As of this minute, I have unsubscribed from both Tableau's Public and Software communications and will have nothing more to do with your operation.

Cowards!

First and last time heard about you..I was going to use this for my company - no more....

Since the leaks we have seen to date have been published by the New York Times and UK Guardian (as well as others), I assume you consider them undesirable users as well? Wikileaks has broken no law and therefore your actions are simple cawardly. On principle, I will never user your service and will make sure that none of my customers do either.

'On every dollar bill, every silver coin read the words "In God we trust" but out of fear we kill' ... words as sung by Barry McGuire in his song "Don't blame God for the sins of America".

I'm the last one who wants to blame anyone or any nation. Most people and most nations try hard to get the most profit for themselves - this is humans nature, obviously.

What is to blame is the fact that America presents itself as the worlds police, the one who know what is right or wrong. They blame China for it's censorship and disregard of human rights. They define what terror is and who's responsible.

But while they are pointing to those "bad ones" with their index fingers, four fingers of the same hand still point to themselves - and they didn't realize it.

America - the country of unlimited possibilities? The country which preserves free speech and human rights? The country which respects dissidents? America, the country that defines worlds legislation?

Fail, all fail!

They are as good or bad than anybody else. Whenever own interests are touched, they do whatever comes to their mind to avoid loosing their frozen-in-smile faces, they destroy the truth to hold high their lies and they persecute those who point that out.

The most annoying thing with these cable publications ist not that I now know, Mrs. Angela Merkel is nicknamed "Teflon" or Mr. Guido Westerwelle is considered "aggressive" ... no ... what's most annoying and destructing is the fact that the US government is persecuting by all means those who make the truth public.

Oh no! another company that doesn't understand Due Process. What a shock.

One more thing, the "rights to the data they publish."

The people own the rights. Wikileaks is a publisher and have the rights to publish that data, it's called the 1st Amendment to the US Constitution. Even YOU are protected by that. The leaker, not so much. The incriminating evidence against some of these diplomats, way too late for them.

Technically the website is given the right to remove this material under the Communications Decency Act's Section 230 that allows an ISP to take-down content that is not in good taste, and honestly the broad scope of the law makes it completely legitimate.

I'm not really sure how you can call them cowards. A lot of that information was meant to be hidden for good reason, and exposing it to the public honestly does nothing but cause a brief moment of excitement, money for Wikileaks, and an ego boost for Mr. Assange.

If anything I guess we can thank him for exposing security flaws in the system, but besides that this is in no way a groundbreaking new group of rebels looking to set the world free. The government's lack of action against Wikileaks when it has the full capacity to do like the Chinese and block access and censure information is just a testament to our liberty, as is the right to take down this content. If you want to read up on the important leaks just head on over to Fox News and look at what they have to say. If anyone deserves the scathing comments its Newscorp.

Shame on you, Tableau!
How can you possibly consider it justified to censor content which all major newspapers are still publishing?

Sometimes they say that bad publicity is better than no publicity. Well, if there ever was an exception to that rule, this must be it. I've never heard before of your company, but now that I've seen the situation, I'll make sure to discourage any potential customer that asks for my opinion. And I do meet a lot of IT managers.

How pathetic that the "land of freedom" has become a bunch of self-censoring wimps.

I will not use your software anymore. Shame on you.

Very sad story.

Being in the software business for more than 15 years now, I met quite a lot of intelligent and open-minded people. That's why I guess that most of the employees of tableau are just like this: they know about the real value of freedom of mind and freedom of speach.
So much the worse for me to see how narrow-minded management is about to ruin the image of the company as well as the vision and belief of its employees.

Internet will never forget about this. And your staff neither.

first and last time i ever come back to your website.

Cowards. Complete Cowards. They've done nothing illegal.

Grow a pair.

  1. I D I O T S

Writing on the blog for Tableau Software, which offers free public visualisations for data, Elissa Fink writes that
"Our terms of service require that people using Tableau Public do not upload, post, email, transmit or otherwise make available any content that they do not have the right to make available. Furthermore, if we receive a complaint about a particular set of data, we retain the right to investigate the situation and remove any offending data, if necessary."
She adds:
"Our decision to remove the data from our servers came in response to a public request by Senator Joe Lieberman, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security Committee, when he called for organisations hosting WikiLeaks to terminate their relationship with the website."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/blog/2010/dec/03/wikileaks-tableau-visua...

How depressingly pathetic and weak of you. To listen to that little drip Lieberman whose agenda is slightly to the right of Genghis Khan QV - http://www.talkleft.com/story/2010/5/4/20130/76607 - Joe Lieberman's Fascist Solution To Terrorism
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Who we are?
The catalyst? A Department of Defense (DOD) project aimed at increasing people’s ability to analyze information and brought to famed Stanford professor, Pat Hanrahan.

Curious grammar but if you withdraw people’s ability to analise you deny democracy. Wittering on about security when the principle information released is merely opinion, and most of the rest is in the public domain, shows your craven behavior.

It is unlikely I shall ever need to use your products but I know many people who would. Your openness and honesty is the only value you have. What percentage of your users will want to use you now? How does the moral part of your business model stand up. In other words will people trust you to act honestly and without influence on their behalf?

Your final “who are we” line is: With a culture founded on breakthrough innovations built by people who have a passion for helping people, this is just our beginning.

Given your actions are you absolutely, I mean ABSOLUTELY, sure

Yours sincerely

Andrew Frey-Lempicki

Im dissapoint.

weak...

NEVER USE THIS C RAP AGAIN.

Despicable. Cowards. Your business will never recover from this. Who in their right mind would use your product knowing you are now censoring comment.
Nuff said.

Shame on you!

I wish you well but your service will no longer be used by me. Your decision to cave to a a Senator's wishes without being served any takedown notice or legal complaint was foolish.

You guys are free to make this decision, just as I have made my decision never to do business with you again...

It's pathetic that the USA has become a a land of self-censorship.

Shame on this company.

Shame on you!

i think the reactions are far from "mixed", at least you admit your cowardness instead of this marketingblabla. i will never use your software again and so i'll encourage all my businesspartners, coworkers and friends to do the same.

simple:
#wikileaks, @wikileaks,@assange, #shameonyou. Or will you also censor this post?

Hope you will go down with the rest of all the corrupt bunch like amazon, paypal, visa, mastercard etc etc!
Enjoy a damaged reputation for life. :)

Since when do private companies act on legal issues against their customers WITHOUT court order or even a written, specified notice?

You DO NOT embrace free speech. Saying that you do is a punch in the face of every freedom-loving person and you see it right here in the comments section how that panned out. No mixed Responses - 3% understand your arguments - at best! In statistics, thats about as little as it can get.

You EMBRACE censorship. None of your words can change that! I hope you reconsider your stance on this matter because your company will irreparably suffer financially if you don't.

America, land of the free and home of the brave. Except at Tableau Software..

Oh by the way, just watch the comment counter at the top of the blog entry. Its slowly but steadily declining. I guess free speech at work? I'm just waiting for a harmless but direct comment to disappear ;)

You are a disappointing individual. Don't you believe in freedom of speech? I know that working as part of a larger organization makes it easy to distance yourself from this decision, but you are individually responsible for this decision. For condoning it.

Do you sleep well at night, knowing that you have made it that much easier for those in power to tell lies, so that it is easier for them to use the less fortunate?

Shame, serious shame.

I'd seen some demonstrations of Tableau, and was starting to explore the possibilities of purchasing a license for work (and championing it within work).

Oddly enough, I won't be doing this now, and I'll be vehemently opposing any deployment of Tableau I see anywhere. If you can't be trusted in something as public as this, why should it be assumed that you can be trusted elsewhere?

I'm not going to slag you off, however your actions really do show the power that a few politicians have.

Wikileaks should be applauded for their actions in my view and you doing this just shows that the USA is NO DIFFERENT to North Korea or China when it comes to censorship.

I really hope this doesn't affect your business as I think your service is very impressive however you have lost some serious credibility.

anyone still reading these comments?

If you want to understand why it makes no difference if Amazon doesn't host the Wikileak data, if EveryDNS stops pointing to their IP address, or if Tableau stops hosting their visualizations, read:
http://www.renesys.com/blog/2010/12/wikileaks-moving-target.shtml

"You can't burn down the Library of Alexandria any more— it will respawn in someone's basement in Stockholm, or Denver, or Beijing."

I really does not matter that Tableau stopped hosting their data (at any aggregation level).

Under U.S. law, when a classified document is leaked, it is then unclassified and public information. These documents are then considered public domain. This is why the news agencies are able to continuously cover this without worrying about any threats.

The point is, WikiLeaks is a media organization. Once they have possession of a document, even if it is classified, they have the right to publish it. When a classified document leaves government hands and ends up in public, it is not illegal to post it.

The government saying that the publication of such documents by WikiLeaks is illegal is a fabrication. The people who leaked the documents are in fact the only people who can be held accountable for this.

Thusly, any information derived from the data is also legal to freely distribute.

It is my sincere hope that in the future companies do not abandon their users and instead defend their rights.

Thank you.

A poor business decision in regards to corporate social responsibility. The repercussions are long term. It's not too late to reconsider.

Actually, while it is true that all government data is in the public domain (not copyrighted), based on the Clinton era Executive Order 12958 http://www.fas.org/sgp/clinton/eo12958.html , it seems that classified documents that are leaked are explicitly _not_ considered declassified. Thus, it is still possible to be prosecuted for distributing or viewing classified documents that have been leaked. There are special protections afforded by the First Amendment to the press, as evidenced by the Pentagon Papers case, but it is unclear if those apply to Tableau or not.

There are really two questions here: Is aggregated data built from classified data also considered classified? And if so, are Tableau or the visualization publishers violating the law by publishing that data?

Tableau did the responsible thing (for itself and its customers) by removing the data, at least until these questions are resolved. Is it the ideal? No. But Tableau has every right to avoid violating Federal Law. One can debate the merits of such a law all they want, but that's not Tableau's job.

right, so in the cynical spirit of your decision, why don't you simply pull this page too so visitors can't see what cowards you are?

that way you can continue making a passive contribution to social/political ignorance AND you won't isolate yourself from those new customers who disagree with your values.

(cue the national anthem)

DISCLAIMER: this suggestion is a highly patriotic because I say it is. Therefore anyone who disagrees is guilty of treason.

ps: I learnt that whole disclaimer thing from our leaders.

Dearest Elissa,

I don't envy you. You must often feel like you've been trapped between the devil and the deep blue sea!

On one side the a Senator and the amorphous threats he conjures, and on the other the great sea of the disapproving internet public!

It must be awful to suffer the dark tide of disapproval that has flown over this very very long comment thread. I congratulate you on not deleting it. That takes courage too, and your reticence to delete the thread speaks to your true feelings on the subject, and your good character.

It must feel just as awful to have to run from noisy senators too. It's a very different thing to feeling the hot breath of Sen. Lieberman on your own neck than it is to snipe from the sidelines; An entirely different thing to make an anonymous post on a blog than it is to worry about yourself, your employees and your company falling into the gaze of such a powerfully noisy old man.

The devil and the deep blue sea.

With time, the less exciting truth that Sen. Leiberman and the like are more interested in making hot air than than time consuming detail of actual legal action, if there ever was more than a flimsy threat to be made.

When it becomes obvious that you've done nothing wrong; when it is shown that wikileaks has done nothing wrong; When you find that you have in-fact done a great deal of good in hosting their work, as they have in creating and publishing it; When you see that there are a great many more friends to be had, praise to be earned and customers to be gained in supporting the likes of Julian Assange; When this happens, i'm sure you'll take to opportunity to invite them back.

Maybe make a statement along the lines of:-

"We have to be more careful in our support than the wide chorus in journalistic and legal circles, but after conducting our due dilligence we have been advised that that there has been no specific wrongdoing on our part, or that of our user.

After receiving this advice, and at the (some might say loud) urging of our users we've decided to reinstate our user, and in-fact to offer our support redoubled for their project.

If you have any specific complaints, our advice is that you please direct them in writing to Wikileaks directly at their Melbourne University post office box in Australia."

Why not top it off with a gift of that 'DIGITAL' package that you mentioned earlier?

I look forward to being able to browse their work again.

Yours Sympathetically and with warm regards,

Mr. Benjamin G. Griffin

Cowards! Do you have any idea what is going on in the "real world"? Joe Lieberman is the problem, not the solution.

Good job Tableau, by joining the likes of Paypal, Amazon, Visa and Mastercard as Lieberman lackeys, you have turned from Business Intelligence to Business Stupidity overnight. You have accomplished nothing by your action and judging by the predominantly negative "mixed" reactions here, you guys have lost the trust of many users and potential clients, including myself.

I will never use your service now.

Shame on you, you cowards.

"Tableau software - attempting to rewrite history since 2010"

"Tableau software - cowards since 2010"

i am disgusted by your cowardly actions.........


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