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Cloudflare Stops Supporting Neo-Nazi Site The Daily Stormer (arstechnica.com) 486

Timothy B. Lee reports via Ars Technica: All week, the infamous hate site Daily Stormer has been battling to stay online in the face of a concerted social media campaign to shut it down. The site lost its "dailystormer.com" domain on Monday after first GoDaddy and then Google Domains blacklisted it from their domain registration services. The site re-appeared online on Wednesday morning at a new domain name, dailystormer.ru. But within hours, the site had gone offline again after it was dropped by Cloudflare, an intermediary that defends customers against denial-of-service attacks. Daily Stormer's Andrew Anglin reported Cloudflare's decision to drop the site in a post on the social media site Gab. His post was first spotted by journalist Matthew Sheffield.
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Cloudflare Stops Supporting Neo-Nazi Site The Daily Stormer

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  • Huh? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mhkohne ( 3854 ) on Wednesday August 16, 2017 @05:09PM (#55029769) Homepage

    Has Cloudflare released a statement on this? Because...this is at odds with their previous behavior, and I want to know if it's just a one-off 'if you beat us hard enough, we'll do things' or if they've actually changed their mind. Because I'd kind of like them to stop helping DDOS providers.

    • I'd imagine either some of their other customers made it clear that they'd be leaving if Cloudflare didn't do something decisive about those jackasses, or Cloudflare decided that the best business decision would be to distance themselves from neo-nazi lightning rods. Now, if we can just convince Cloudflare to stop punishing people who use Tor..
    • Because I'd kind of like them to stop helping DDOS providers.

      Assuming this statement is true, why would they do that? It would cut off a source of business given they provide "protection".

      • by mhkohne ( 3854 )

        Because I'd kind of like them to stop helping DDOS providers.

        Assuming this statement is true, why would they do that? It would cut off a source of business given they provide "protection".

        I'm referencing Krebs on Security on that one - he's pointed out several times that CloudFlare does in fact seem to have a protection racket running there. That's why I'm curious whether they've turned over a new leaf (perhaps not EVERYONE should be our customer), or whether this is a one-off.

        You are almost certainly correct on why they do it, of course.

    • by sl3xd ( 111641 )

      Good question

      Another good question: was dailystormer a paying customer, or was it in Cloudflare's free tier? (I mention it as I've used the free tier before)

      If they were in the free tier, it's not too different from dropping the free service they gave to Brian Krebs before someone tried to DDOS his site offline for weeks at a time. (I.e. It's hard to justify the cost of maintaining service for a customer that pays nothing)

    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Motherfucking Shit ( 636021 ) on Wednesday August 16, 2017 @06:26PM (#55030305) Journal

      They put up a blog post explaining their decision [cloudflare.com] a little while ago.

      I take some umbrage at Cloudflare's rationale. Their position regarding this site, as well as various other sites, seems to be "we're just a proxy." The issue with that defense is that by proxying for a site, the Cloudflare service hides and obfuscates whatever provider is actually hosting the content. This is a) by design, and b) necessary in order to make the DDoS protection effective. That doesn't make it any less problematic.

      Cloudflare wants to pass the buck somewhere else in the "infrastructure stack," as they call it, and I don't necessarily disagree that what amounts to a glorified transit provider is the wrong place to be implementing blocks. But given the very nature of Cloudflare's service, how does one figure out where else to complain? When a site is using Cloudflare, all roads dead end in Cloudflare's network. The site's name servers are in the cloudflare.com domain. The site's A records are inside Cloudflare IP space. Cloudflare is the primary visible service provider in these scenarios, whether they host any content or not.

      Case in point, I've watched this story play out with some interest over the past couple of days. I still have no idea where Daily Stormer's content was actually being hosted. It almost certainly would have violated the AUP/TOS of that hosting provider, and they probably would have terminated the site directly. But with Cloudflare in the way, no one knows who to complain to.

      When your business model is being a black-box opaque front for all comers, don't be surprised when the world directs its anger at you.

      • Re:Huh? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Wednesday August 16, 2017 @11:34PM (#55031939) Homepage

        The only group that should censor is the courts, when ever corporations take it up themselves to be above the courts, to rule beyond the courts, it always works out much worse for us. Not happy with 'Daily Stormer' than take it too fucking court, corporations are not the fucking government. Want to take someone down, want to censor them, take it to court.

        • they are not censoring them, they are denying them access to their service, censoring them would mean that they could not go elsewhere to host their site.
      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Their stated reason (from your link) seems reasonable:

        "The tipping point for us making this decision was that the team behind Daily Stormer made the claim that we were secretly supporters of their ideology."

        They were willing to proxy the site until the owners started claiming that Cloudflare were secret Nazis.

  • by thesupraman ( 179040 ) on Wednesday August 16, 2017 @05:10PM (#55029771)

    Sadly we can chalk up another 'win' to groupthink, oppression of minorities, and censorship.

    Really, isn't the best way to fight such complete stupidity to keep it in the open?
    Isn't censoring such people just making them feel more targeted, and therefore strengthening their solidarity?

    All this has done is give a bunch of disenfranchised idiots more reason to hate..

    Shine a light on them, don't chase them away to skulk in the dark, where they will do what they will do without anyone watching.

    • by gravewax ( 4772409 ) on Wednesday August 16, 2017 @05:17PM (#55029819)
      Their is no censorship here. They originally made a business decision to support them, now they have made another to drop them. Really they should have avoided making any public statement in the first place and then they probably could have gotten away with the original business decision. Businesses have no responsibility to provide services to such a group and it isn't oppression or censorship to refuse them service, in fact it would be oppression and censorship to force them to support them.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by cdsparrow ( 658739 )

        I'm reserving judgement on this one since Stormfront is a bunch of whackos, but I don't like the general precedent being set here. Haven't looked, but I bet Antifa and BLM websites sit behind Cloudflare also. Where is the outrage for those folks? Last I checked it's been a while since any neo-nazis organized riots and burned down noticeable portions of big cities.

        A business should be allowed to decide if it wants to take money from someone or not. That being said, why should a bakery be forced to bake a

      • by duke_cheetah2003 ( 862933 ) on Wednesday August 16, 2017 @06:40PM (#55030401) Homepage

        Businesses have no responsibility to provide services to such a group and it isn't oppression or censorship to refuse them service, in fact it would be oppression and censorship to force them to support them.

        This is exactly right. However, infrastructure business have a responsibility to uphold free speech. They have shown extremely poor judgement by caving to pressure to suppress. Sorry, that is not going to work. And in fact, if history is a lesson, trying to stamp this out in this fashion is insane. These kinds of groups just become more hateful, radical, violent and provocative. If they can't speak, then they will act.

        Let them have their wretched little website to spew hatred at each other. At least then we know who and where they are. Society is playing with fire here, repeating past mistakes.

        Let me make a sort of messy analogy. Just pretend for a minute highways and streets were privately owned. This would be the equivalent of saying these people can't drive on your streets, period. And not only that, they're not even allowed to have an address on a street. Does that really sound like something we want to say we did to someone else? And pretend it's somehow a "good thing"? Really?

    • by computational super ( 740265 ) on Wednesday August 16, 2017 @05:18PM (#55029827)
      Oh, it's even better than that. See, you and I have been told that "The Daily Stormer" has been censored and must be removed from our view because it was hateful. Although in this case I have no reason to believe otherwise, there's no way for you or I to verify whether or not it really was - or, if it was, just _how_ hateful and whether it really deserved its fate. This time it probably was, and did. But since we can't tell for sure, next time it may not, and we'll have no way to tell - it's been removed to protect us, see, and we have no business looking at it.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 16, 2017 @05:29PM (#55029913)

        Someones never been on the daily stormer, or browsed comments on far-right websites. Did you know that an internet archive exists?

      • I mean, in a more typical case, they would have recourse. They could just go elsewhere for their hosting and domain name services.

        These specific assholes will have a hard time doing that, of course, because they are a notorious hate group, and everybody, including you, knows it. But if their status as a hate group was questionable or incorrect, somebody else would likely be happy to take their money.

        • These specific assholes will have a hard time doing that, of course, because they are a notorious hate group, and everybody, including you, knows it.

          They would have to work harder, yes, but not that much harder. The world is full of service providers who would be happy to take their money.

          • I'll host them.
            No problem. I only accept Bitcoin and they're likely to not like my data retention and uptime policies though...

            *heh*

      • there's no way for you or I to verify whether or not it really was - or, if it was, just _how_ hateful and whether it really deserved its fate.

        Only if you're not technical enough to hit the dark web. Daily Stormer's not going anywhere, they're just changing addresses.
      • See, you and I have been told that "The Daily Stormer" has been censored and must be removed from our view because it was hateful.

        Not really. You and I have been told that there are certain groups of people who would prefer not to be associated with The Daily Stormer.

        The Daily Stormer can certainly stay up and remain accessible. They just can't do it with the support of those groups.

    • by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 ) on Wednesday August 16, 2017 @05:27PM (#55029895)

      Sadly we can chalk up another 'win' to groupthink, oppression of minorities, and censorship.

      Really, isn't the best way to fight such complete stupidity to keep it in the open?

      Explain. This is not keeping people from putting their Blood and Soil and the Holocaust was a liberal Jewish hoax and Lets go here because there are some liberals gathering" websites on the internet, it is telling them that "we" aren't going to host it.

      The Brave young Aryans are completely free to sign up with any service that will have them. Or even better, start one of their own, where they can spread their messages without having to worry about Liberals. In fact, they can deny those liberals access to their servers then, an obvious win.

      Isn't censoring such people just making them feel more targeted, and therefore strengthening their solidarity?

      First, it isn't censorship, and second, many of the people in these organizations are drawn to them because they feel disenfranchised, or have a deep seated need for hatred.

      All this has done is give a bunch of disenfranchised idiots more reason to hate..

      Shine a light on them, don't chase them away to skulk in the dark, where they will do what they will do without anyone watching.

      Sounds like a demand for support of any group that feels marginalized. Sometimes groups are marginalized for a reason. Both of these groups have committed some serious crimes, either on a semi local level for the White Supremacists, or on a global scale, such as Nazis. And people who provide services for other people are allowed to deny service to others, except in certain narrowly defined circumstances. Good luck in the real world trying to convince most of America that they have to support either of those groups. You have a President who supports them - what more could you ask for?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dslauson ( 914147 )

      Shine a light on them, don't chase them away to skulk in the dark, where they will do what they will do without anyone watching.

      Do you really think their site continuing unabated as-is would be "shining a light on them"? It would just continue to give them their dark corner of the web to flourish in, while the rest of us blissfully ignore whatever racist bullshit propaganda was being spread over there.

      Now, I wouldn't advocate for a government crackdown, because I'm a big believer in the first amendment, bu

      • Now, I wouldn't advocate for a government crackdown, because I'm a big believer in the first amendment

        You believe in the first amendment, but you don't believe in free speech. You want them silenced because you don't agree with what they say.

        The only reason you are ok with them being silenced is because you don't like what they are saying. You are a hypocrite first class. You should go into politics.

    • by werepants ( 1912634 ) on Wednesday August 16, 2017 @05:38PM (#55029975)

      There's "censorship", and then there's "you're an asshole, and association with you will hurt my reputation, so I won't do business with you".

      It's not like an ISP is proactively blocking people who want to read this site's content, or the government is forcing people to abandon him. The free market is acting.

      • by Jahta ( 1141213 )

        There's "censorship", and then there's "you're an asshole, and association with you will hurt my reputation, so I won't do business with you".

        It's not like an ISP is proactively blocking people who want to read this site's content, or the government is forcing people to abandon him. The free market is acting.

        Exactly this; obligatory xkcd explaining the difference between censorship and freedom of speech [xkcd.com].

        As the "hover text" on the xkcd image says, "defending a position by citing free speech is sort of the ultimate concession; you're saying that the most compelling thing you can say for your position is that it's not literally illegal to express"

    • Sadly we can chalk up another 'win' to groupthink, oppression of minorities, and censorship.

      Really, isn't the best way to fight such complete stupidity to keep it in the open?

      Yes

      Isn't censoring such people just making them feel more targeted, and therefore strengthening their solidarity?

      Yes

      All this has done is give a bunch of disenfranchised idiots more reason to hate..

      And yes

      Shine a light on them, don't chase them away to skulk in the dark, where they will do what they will do without anyone watching.

      Careful, that independent thought will get you into trouble with our groupthink overlords.

      • All this has done is give a bunch of disenfranchised idiots more reason to hate..

        And yes

        Once you've reached the point where you sport a swastika armband and Nazi flag and throw up Nazi salutes and call for Jews to be put in ovens, you've pretty much reached peak hate. I don't think Cloudflare dropping the Daily Stormer is going to cause them to get a +1 Hate added to their stats because the Hate stat is pretty much capped at "Nazi".

        • Geez, I hope you are right, but I will not count on that. WWII did happen because of something similar to this. The originals (fascists) pretty much started out the same way to what is unfolding here now. And that event should NEVER happen again if at all possible.

          Oppression, however, should never be the answer.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by PopeRatzo ( 965947 )

            Oppression, however, should never be the answer.

            With the original Nazis, oppression was definitely the answer.

            You think those soldiers that landed on Normandy were there to engage in civil discourse with the Nazis?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by thegarbz ( 1787294 )

      Really, isn't the best way to fight such complete stupidity to keep it in the open?
      Isn't censoring such people just making them feel more targeted, and therefore strengthening their solidarity?
      All this has done is give a bunch of disenfranchised idiots more reason to hate..

      No it's not. Leaving them happily in the open gives them legitimacy and a way to spread their message. They are already disenfranchised, and they already hate. But cutting them off they won't hate any more. What it will do is separate the actual haters and neo-nazi from the part time weekend warriors who have nothing better to do than join the angry rant of the day.

      These groups will always exist. But it's quite important that they stay in the minority and in the underground rather than allowing them to mass

      • What it will do is separate the actual haters and neo-nazi from the part time weekend warriors

        Don't be so sure. I have some trailer park dwelling redneck relatives who are already upset about Confederate monuments being torn down (which is what started all of this), and the way the alt-right is being treated by tech companies, and portrayed by the media, is generating sympathy from them.

        They may not go out and riot, but they sure as heck aren't going to vote for a Democrat in 2020. The Democrats need to start focusing on real issues like healthcare and jobs, instead of stupid symbolism like monume

        • They may not go out and riot, but they sure as heck aren't going to vote for a Democrat in 2020.

          And those are precisely the kind of neo-nazi-lite groups that should be separated from the primary group's recruitment service.

        • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 )

          ...and the way the alt-right is being treated by tech companies, and portrayed by the media, is generating sympathy from them.

          The first thing the media should stop doing is calling them "alt-right". Call them Nazis and stop being PC. Now see if those neighbors are still sympathetic.

          they sure as heck aren't going to vote for a Democrat in 2020.

          Clue: They weren't going to vote democrat before this weekend either.

          The Democrats need to start focusing on real issues like healthcare and jobs,

          I don't know where you've been, but the Dems have been focusing on healthcare. You may not like ACA (clue: the dems don't either) but it's a far sight better than the 8 years in the making set of Republican healthcare plans we just witnessed.

          As for jobs, you don't think those just ju

          • The first thing the media should stop doing is calling them "alt-right". Call them Nazis and stop being PC. Now see if those neighbors are still sympathetic.

            That will almost certainly make them more sympathetic, because it will reinforce everything they already believe about the MSM. Progressives are called "communists" by Fox News. Does that make you less sympathetic toward progressives? Or does it make you feel Fox News is not credible?

            Clue: They weren't going to vote democrat before this weekend either.

            I think you are dead wrong. There are many Trump voters that are sympathetic to progressive issues like economic justice, access to healthcare, and less inequality in education. But they also feel the Democrats are insulti

      • Not so sure about this one. Now we as a community will never know who, what or even when they may cause mayhem again. They will go dark.

        Just because you remove them from the public eye, does not make them disappear. It does not eliminate their message. They will adapt.

        Does it send a message? Yes it does. It says that a majority of the people do not believe in their BS and would prefer not for it to be public. But it will not solve the real underlying problem of why they exist in the first place. Thi

        • Now we as a community will never know who, what or even when they may cause mayhem again.

          Tor is not an impenetrable fortress. We can still actively monitor them.

          It does not eliminate their message.

          You are right, but we as a race are quite slack. The people dedicated to the cause will join the group wherever they go, however there is none the less a large majority of people who will not put the effort in and thus will be separated from the message. There's a reason politicians advertise in prime-time TV slots. It reaches more people than a website, which reaches far more people still than making someone download Tor and go find a

          • And that worked out well for the Democrats this last election, right? I do not believe that the current administration spent a whole lot of money on Prime Time slots at all.
    • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Wednesday August 16, 2017 @05:57PM (#55030099) Journal

      Really, isn't the best way to fight such complete stupidity to keep it in the open?

      Do you have an historical example of this working? I mean, there may well be some, but none come to mind.

      If you shine a light on some bugs and they scurry under a rock, you can then blow up the rock and problem solved. You don't beat the bugs by inviting them into your house.

      Nazis are cockroaches. When you promote genocide by idolizing genocide that already happened you forfeit your right to be part of civil society.

      • Nazis are cockroaches. When you promote genocide by idolizing genocide that already happened you forfeit your right to be part of civil society.

        And who gets to set the bar for what is permissible discourse for participation in a free society. You? The anti-defamation league? The corporate gatekeepers to the internet?

        This, on the heels of witnessing someone getting railroaded and smeared for challenging the ideological dogma of one of the largest gatekeepers. Free speech, whether at political rallies or at college campuses or online, is being extinguished, and here you are cheerleading for it.

        Cockroaches? More like canaries in the coal mine.

    • Sadly we can chalk up another 'win' to groupthink

      Or as those monsters at Wikipedia call it, "Society".

    • Really, isn't the best way to fight such complete stupidity to keep it in the open?

      I don't believe that anymore. That policy has been an abject failure, and seems to have served more as an enabling support group than as a disinfectant.

    • I tend to disagree. The more of a platform in the open they have the more effect their propaganda has. Americans are very receptive to propaganda; they've been trained all their life to listen to PR.

    • Would your company want the Daily Stormer as a client? I think this is more along the lines of no company wants them as a customer - if you ran a store that had nazi's in it all the time it wouldn't be good for business.

      I've worked for big software companies (fortune 50) that have fired customers - it's their right to do so. Typically it goes along the lines of "you're too much of a pain in the ass".

    • I'll ignore most of the idiocy in this post. I have one question. How are they "disenfranchised"?
    • Sadly we can chalk up another 'win' to groupthink, oppression of minorities, and censorship.

      If groupthink is not allowing hate groups access to a privately run service, and oppression of minorities is the same as the way we put criminals in prison, and censorship is like how we don't allowing public sex in school classrooms, then yeah, this is sad...
      You make anything sound less harmful than it is by throwing around words like censorship, but ultimately some level of censorship creates a higher quality of life overall. Or Maybe you shouldn't allow that red light to censor your freedom of expressio

    • by hord ( 5016115 )

      Shine a light on them. Let them shine an even brighter light on themselves. Let the eternal sun shine on them. Then ignore them. They have no power if you truly believe that speech is free because it harms no one.

      "Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman." -- Louis D. Brandeis

  • by WolfWalker545 ( 960367 ) on Wednesday August 16, 2017 @05:18PM (#55029831)
    I suspect these companies have failed to adequately discuss their moves with their lawyers, by taking actions based on viewpoint, they potentially forfeit their ability to claim legal protections as common carriers.
    • by mhkohne ( 3854 ) on Wednesday August 16, 2017 @06:07PM (#55030181) Homepage

      Actually, and especially with CloudFlare, I don't think anyone has much of a leg to stand on to take them on. First amendment is a thing that limits the government, not business - they are free to do business (or not) with whoever they choose.

      Whether it's a good idea or not, is a separate thing.

      • they are free to do business (or not) with whoever they choose.

        Almost. There are protected classes which you can not arbitrarily chose to do business with based on a specific set of reasons, e.g. a black person because they are black.

    • by taking actions based on viewpoint, they potentially forfeit their ability to claim legal protections as common carriers.

      This is, of course, utterly untrue per (ironically) Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act [wikipedia.org]:

      No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.

      Basically, Cloudflare isn't responsible for anyone else's data, even if they sometimes reject serving other traffic.

    • Clouflare is not legally classified as a "common carrier", so that's not an issue. Nor, by the way, are domain registrars or web hosting companies.

  • Well I guess the answer to the old question

    How do you shut down Hitler's web hosting is
    Tie his Cat 5 cables in NAZIS.

  • by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Wednesday August 16, 2017 @06:02PM (#55030141)

    The site lost its "dailystormer.com" domain on Monday ... The site re-appeared online on Wednesday morning at a new domain name, dailystormer.ru. But within hours, the site had gone offline again after it was dropped by Cloudflare, ...

    ... and change their name to "weeklystormer" or "stormermonthly" and wait a while - it would cut back on the attempted registration fees.

  • kind of a shame, I thought Cloudflare didn't take down anything without a warrant.

  • So Cloudflare won't stand up for speech, but they'll stand up for black hat criminal operations [krebsonsecurity.com]? WTF?

    The problem with taking a stance is that now you have to justify why you take action sometimes and not other times. I totally get why Cloudflare would back down here and that's their call.

    But if they're going to start policing content, then why the hell are they shutting down the routing of objectionable content, but not clearly criminal content? Along with TOR, they're the haven of choice for Black Hats and

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