Akamai Shuts Down Servers at Universities

19 December 2002

Akamai Technologies Inc. has pulled the plug on server computers it installed at a handful of U.S. universities, a move made in the wake of news reports that the servers were delivering content for teenage porn and Internet gambling sites.

Servers used in data centers at the University of Massachusetts, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Babson College, Dartmouth College, the University of Maine and several other schools have been shut down.

The computers were used to "cache," or store, images and text from many of the sites, according to several of Akamai's business competitors, who monitor the publicly accessible devices.

Those competitors, who spoke to the Boston Globe on the condition of anonymity, accused Akamai of using servers in taxpayer-aided university networks to facilitate the delivery of questionable content for financial gain.

Akamai acknowledged having advertising-based relationships with online gambling operators, but wouldn't comment on specifically how the servers were being used or which online casinos were involved.

In the past, online gambling operators have contracted Akamai to deliver advertising. Company spokesman Jeff Young emphasized that the group has never processed gambling-related transactions. He also said the company decided last month to sever ties with the online gaming industry.

Each of the three soon-to-be former partners, he explained, has its own time frame for finding a replacement for Akamai. During this grace period of sorts, he said, Akamai's competitors have been trying to give the company a black eye

"We have said all along that it's going away," Young said, "but I can't speak to every step of the process."

Neither of Akamai's two main competitors in content delivery networking--London-based Cable & Wireless PLC and Speedera of Santa Clara, Calif.--use university-based servers in their networks. Both acknowledge they do business for porn sites, but claim to do so only through commercial data centers.

Cable & Wireless caters to the gambling industry, but does so outside of the U.S.

Speedera, on the other hand, claims to have nothing to do with online gambling. "These sites have moved outside the U.S. for a reason," said Gordon Smith, the company's marketing vice president, "and Speedera is not interested in helping them attempt to circumvent U.S. law enforcement."

Young said porn and gambling accounts for less then 1 percent of the company's annual revenue of more than $100 million.

Akamai also has three servers at the University of Texas but campus officials there told the Associated Press that checks of their network showed no signs of routing to gambling- or porn-related Web sites.

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