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Cloudflare is the One Tech Company Still Sticking By Neo-Nazi Websites (qz.com) 549

An anonymous reader shares a report: One company is sticking by The Daily Stormer and other far-right websites: the cloud security and performance service Cloudflare. Cloudflare acts as a shield between websites and the outside world, protecting them from hackers and preserving the anonymity of the sites' owners. But Cloudflare is not a hosting service: It does not store website content on its servers. And that fact, as far as the company is concerned, exempts it from judgment over who its clients are -- even if those clients are literally Nazis. In a statement Cloudflare sent to Quartz and other publications yesterday, the company refused to explicitly say it will continue to do business with sites like The Daily Stormer, but pointed out that the content would exist regardless of what Cloudflare does or doesn't do. "Cloudflare is aware of the concerns that have been raised over some sites that have used our network. We find the content on some of these sites repugnant. While our policy is to not comment on any user specifically, we are cooperating with law enforcement in any investigation. Cloudflare is not the host of any website. Cloudflare is a network that provides performance and security services to more than 10% of all Internet requests. Cloudflare terminating any user would not remove their content from the Internet, it would simply make a site slower and more vulnerable to attack."
UPDATE: The Daily Stormer now says Cloudflare has decided to drop their site after all.
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Cloudflare is the One Tech Company Still Sticking By Neo-Nazi Websites

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 15, 2017 @04:43PM (#55020403)

    Cool that someone still stands for freedom of speech.

    Most people were brainwashed to think that freedom of speech means "freedom to say anything - as long this are the 'good things'".

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ldgeorge85 ( 1660791 )
      Just because you have the right to say it, doesn't mean people have to actually give you the time, place, or attention. Sure, you can believe and say anything you want. Doesn't meant I can't just ignore you and think you are an idiot, and also have the right to saw as much.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mysidia ( 191772 )

        Just because you have the right to say it, doesn't mean people have to actually give you the time, place, or attention.

        That's true, but saying it on your own website SHOULD be equivalent to saying it on the doorstep of your house.

        No intermediary required for you to to get your internet access should be judging you, because FREE and OPEN communication is the primary value of the internet.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 15, 2017 @05:07PM (#55020637)

          Hear! Hear! They don't call it the "Tyranny of the Majority" for nothing. If what GoDaddy did is how free speech works, then it's likely that the Civil Rights movements would have been dead in its tracks until a majority cared enough to make it visible. That's with everything. This "1984" view of correctness is scary and how it comes from the left as being "say good things or we beat the crap out of you," is even more scary.

          Do you really want Nazis working underground? Well, suppressing free speech is how to get Nazis working underground.

          • by shilly ( 142940 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2017 @05:23PM (#55020813)

            Some choices:
            1. Nazis working underground
            2. Nazis working in the open
            3. Nazis trying to work in the open but finding it exceptionally difficult because people don't want to associate with them or take their money

            I'll have a 3 please!

            • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 15, 2017 @05:29PM (#55020879)

              Your "3" is just your "1", but makes your group an obvious victim of discrimination, and therefore worthy of sympathy. Great plan.

              • I'm still wondering whatever happened to "I Disapprove of What You Say, But I Will Defend to the Death Your Right to Say It"?

        • by gravewax ( 4772409 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2017 @05:10PM (#55020667)
          yep but no one, not me, you, cloudflare or anyone else has to provide them with the loudspeaker, sell them the server or provide them bandwidth, internet protection etc to spread that opinion. Freedom of speech doesn't put an obligation on anyone else to facilitate that and in fact freedom of speech allows others to explicitly refuse you the platform, if they control it, to speak from.
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by r1348 ( 2567295 )

            Freedom of speech implies that you're allowed a voice. In the Internet era, that means web hosts.
            Removing already existing content over ideological dissent is called censorship, no matter how you put it.

            • by sarbonn ( 1796548 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2017 @05:50PM (#55021039) Homepage Journal
              Back when I was a web designer in the infancy of the Internet, I ended up dealing with this a lot. I built and maintained web sites for a bunch of different, diverse companies and one of them was an adult bookstore. The woman that owned that store was a very nice person who sold her smutty books in peace and in person was the complete opposite of the content of any of those books. But after a few years of being hosted by a net provider, a new person was promoted to a higher position at that company, and he went nuts. He was extremely religious and couldn't believe that this "scumbag" was providing "evil" to the masses. Without warning, he completely shut down that site and deleted EVERYTHING off of its servers. He then went after the shopping cart provider for the site and threatened to pull everyone of their clients off his site as well, if they didn't stop servicing the bookstore (even though he now had no connection to it any more). I ended up having to build a shopping cart for her with PHP (learning it over the weekend so I could figure out how to program it), and then I found her a more "adult-friendly" host. But I learned real quick like that people can be really cruel to you for almost no reason whatsoever, even if you've been that person's customer for years in a good, friendly relationship.
          • by Alok ( 37687 )

            No one 'has to' sell services to people, but companies that withdraw services are now acting as a judge of content instead of just being a common carrier and leaving it to courts to rule on such things - you know, the people who can actually define 'racism' or w/e is the term du jour being misused in media and random internet posts.

            Companies are quick to overreact based on perceived negative PR, thanks to overzealous media that loves to gang up on anyone who doesn't follow their groupthink. But as this beco

            • by LynnwoodRooster ( 966895 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2017 @06:09PM (#55021223) Journal

              No one 'has to' sell services to people

              That has yet to be decided [economist.com]. Sometimes the State will compell you to provide services or goods to others, even if you don't like it. I assume all those who denounced the "gay wedding cake baker" will of course denounce the websites dropping this Nazi group, too.

        • The real question is what freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of press all mean in the virtual world. I don't agree with what was said, and I certainly don't agree with any form of censorship regarding speech. I really would like to see some of these cases make their way up to the supreme court to reaffirm some of the rights which have been diluted over the past 4-5 decades.

          • If it does make it up to the SCOTUS, the outcome is pretty cut and dry. "Congress shall make no law...". Meaning the government can't take any action restricting free speech. In fact the entirety of the Bill of Rights is simply a list of things the government is not allowed to do. For example, the second amendment prohibits the government from restricting your access to firearms, but businesses are 100% in their rights to do so on their premises. A business is equally within their rights to regulate your sp

      • Exactly...
        If you silence someone and make their speech forbidden, then it will attract people *because* its forbidden.
        Hiding information from people is never a solution to anything.
        Nazis should be free to express their views, as should everyone else.
        If people are reasonably educated then they should be able to draw their own conclusions based on the information available to them.

        It's also good to hear all viewpoints before you decide where you stand on an issue. Just because someone's views are commonly held as extreme doesn't mean they don't deserve a fair hearing. Once you've learned about their views then you can make an informed decision as to wether their opinion is bullshit, and if so why.

        Saying you are against nazis because "omfg nazis!" is almost as stupid as promoting the common nazi ideals. If you're going to speak against something, you should at least have researched that topic thoroughly first so you understand exactly what you're speaking against.

    • "Insightful" my ass. The First Amendment only stops the government from censoring you. Private companies are not bound by it. I can still tell you to shut up.

      • by sycodon ( 149926 )

        But you can't make him shut up.

        • And, likewise, no one is smashing down the server room door where The Daily Stormer is hosted.

          If someone detroys their server or their network link, that's crossing the line. If someone decides not to do business with them, that's perfectly fine.

          You are entitled to exist free from harm or threats; you are not entitled to publicity, social media, or a platform.

      • Yes, this right here: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech". This also applies to the "entire government", not just Congress. Now, one could argue that Executive Actions are not technically laws, or other such loopholes, and then those have to be fought out in the Courts.
    • by CodeHog ( 666724 )
      assuming you're referencing amendment 1 of the US constitution, nowhere does it say people have to listen to or put up with shitty speech.
  • Somebody has to (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2017 @04:45PM (#55020425)

    Free speech means nothing if it's not applied to everyone, including the most odious. For there is always something you would like that someone else would consider obscene and block.

    Let it all through. Let people choose and find their own way.

    • Re:Somebody has to (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rogoshen1 ( 2922505 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2017 @04:49PM (#55020451)

      yar.. if there's one thing worse than this kind of repugnant bullshit, it's censorship.

      • Or as I like to put it, it's easy to uphold a principle when doing so defends the rights of those you like and agree with. The true test of how strongly you believe in a principle comes when upholding it will defend someone you dislike and disagree with.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      A core tenant of Nazis is violence against certain people. Therefore, promotion of Nazi ideas is inherently incitement to violence, which is not protected by speech.
      • And that should be dealt with via the law, not private companies trying to smooth over their recent bad PR.

      • Re:Somebody has to (Score:4, Insightful)

        by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2017 @05:17PM (#55020761)

        Actually, unless the speech can be judged as intending to immediately incite people to violence, it probably is protected.

        People (myself included, in the past) love to quote Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes statement "[T]he most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic". Thing is, that ruling was subsequently significantly narrowed [wikipedia.org] some years afterward... it's all about whether your intent is to get people to become violent right now.

        • You're talking about the legal limits of free speech. These are not necessarily the same the moral limits of free speech. Clouldflare or any other private company is under no obligation to apply the Brandenburg test to determine whether hate speech is protected.
      • by CQDX ( 2720013 )

        Communism advocates class struggle (i.e. line up the property owners and intellectuals against the wall). Islam advocates violence against infidels, Jews most of all. Feminism advocates free and freely available abortions (i.e. killing certain unborn persons). We can go on and on.

        So who's free speech do you want to ban?

      • by Bert64 ( 520050 )

        Various religious books also promote violence against certain people, and yet they are protected...

        The key to everything is education.

        If people are stupid and poorly educated, then they will be easily influenced by others.
        People who are smart and well educated will not be easily swayed irrespective of how much propaganda they read.

        Of course the powers that be actually prefer the former group of people, as it is easier for them to control through the mass media. But in order for that to work, you need to ens

      • by JoelKatz ( 46478 )

        Actually, incitement of violence is protected speech in the United States. There's a very limited subcategory of incitement that's not protected, but it's not nearly as broad as you are implying. One can, for example, say "All left handed people should be killed as soon as we know they're left handed" and that is not incitement. On the other hand, if you're surrounded by a mob of people who are likely to kill left handed people, you cannot shout, "That guy in the blue hat is left handed, get him!"

    • Free speech does not and has never meant providing people a platform to voice their hate. They are free from government persecution to voice it, but NO ONE has to provide them any service to facilitate that, that is also a key part of everyone elses free speech. cloudflare made a business decision, not one about freedom.
  • All publicity is good publicity.

    • by CodeHog ( 666724 )
      all as in everything? I'm sure there are some things that a few people like but sure as hell shouldn't be allowed.
  • The Shame (Score:3, Insightful)

    by aoism ( 996912 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2017 @04:56PM (#55020509)
    Man, Damore was right that the west coast Techies are all about shame. even if its constitutionally protected speech. I for one applaud CloudFlare while simultaneously giving the Nazis the finger.
    • Even Damore has come out against the Alt-right.

      • Re:The Shame (Score:5, Insightful)

        by goose-incarnated ( 1145029 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2017 @06:11PM (#55021237) Journal

        Even Damore has come out against the Alt-right.

        You sound surprised. You do understand that it's possible to be both against the alt-right, and against the hard-left?

        After all, the nazis and antifa have more in common than they differ. However, only one of them is any serious threat, and it's not the one that everyone regards as a joke.

    • Shame is a societies immune system, attacking anything that agitates the over-all "body" too much. These viewpoints have gotten to the point they are agitating society "too much" and this is just part of the eventual "blowback" until the "disease" is pushed back below an "infection level".
  • by I kan Spl ( 614759 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2017 @04:58PM (#55020531) Homepage

    "The First Amendment really was designed to protect a debate at the fringes. You don't need the courts to protect speech that everybody agrees with, because that speech will be tolerated. You need a First Amendment to protect speech that people regard as intolerable or outrageous or offensive - because that is when the majority will wield its power to censor or suppress, and we have a First Amendment to prevent the government from doing that."
    - ACLU Legal Director Steven Shapiro

    It's true that companies are not limited by the First Amendment, but it's refreshing when one acts as if they were.

    • >It's true that companies are not limited by the First Amendment, but it's refreshing when one acts as if they were.

      There seems to be some limits. We don't want companies refusing services to gays or muslims or minorities.

      There is also limits on companies firing employees who try to unionize or talk about working conditions.

      And we don't want them firing pregnant workers or disabled people for no reasons.

      Most americans wants some limits to protect people, this includes people who dont agree with.

      Pastor M

      • Niemöller wasn't talking about censorship. He was talking about NAZIS arresting and killing people. Abusing that quote to defend actual NAZIS is just mind-boggling.
  • Quick question (Score:5, Informative)

    by ArhcAngel ( 247594 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2017 @05:00PM (#55020555)
    What would Godwin say about a post actually BEING about Nazis? Oh, nevermind...this [washingtonpost.com] is what he would say.
  • by Headw1nd ( 829599 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2017 @05:04PM (#55020611)
    Are we going to get an article about how the ACLU is "sticking by Nazis" as well? Just because a company or group doesn't immediately go out of their way to embargo or shut down a group doesn't mean they're in cahoots with them. There is a difference between supporting a group and providing services to that group as part of a general policy of service for all as a matter of principle.
  • by duke_cheetah2003 ( 862933 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2017 @05:08PM (#55020649) Homepage

    the company refused to explicitly say it will continue to do business with sites like The Daily Stormer, but pointed out that the content would exist regardless of what Cloudflare does or doesn't do.

    While I and probably most of us find the content disgusting and repulsive, I for one am glad Cloudflare is standing up for free speech even they disagree with. This takes real balls. And it's a good thing. Free speech isn't optional. Only listening is optional.

    • This takes real balls.

      It takes greed. CloudFlare is a big business, and any moralizing should be assumed disingenuous until proven otherwise.

      You can certainly judge a company by who they serve and how, but don't pretend morality enters the picture. GoDaddy, Google, and CloudFlare are all taking political stances to appeal to potential clients.

      Free speech isn't optional. Only listening is optional.

      The right to speak is protected, but access to technology isn't.

      A man has the right to stand on a street corner and speak his mind. But just as no one is obligated to listen to him, neither

      • by green1 ( 322787 )

        And nobody is obligated to do background checks on everyone they sell a megaphone to and determine how worthy their speech is prior to the sale of said megaphone.

        If you don't like the free speech, don't listen. Alternatively, engage in free speech of your own to educate people on the opposing viewpoint.

        But targeting and shaming everyone who's ever done business with someone just because that person said something you disagree with? That in itself is shameful.

        Someday it could be you with the unpopular viewpo

  • Article has already "Nazi" in the title. What are we supposed to further trol^H^H^H^Hsay about Cloudflare ?

  • by Trax3001BBS ( 2368736 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2017 @06:51PM (#55021511) Homepage Journal

    Last I looked thepiratebay.org only had one ISP https://www.robtex.com/dns-loo... [robtex.com] one of many that we have a right to.

    A post rather than a reply - an attempt at a shot out to cloudflare and a thank you for your service.

  • "sticking by" (Score:4, Informative)

    by jm007 ( 746228 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2017 @08:08PM (#55022069)
    dirtbag yellow journalist excessively editorializing by using the "sticking by" phrase to mischaracterize Cloudflare's stance on Freedom of Speech; support of free speech does not mean endorsement of what another says, it means you have the balls to stand on principle even when you find it distasteful; fucking lever-pullers have an easy time keeping the weak-minded distracted, divided and conquerable

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