Tuesday, May 09, 2017




Free speech webhost attracts ire

With Google and Facebook stepping up their censorship activities, a lot of us might end up glad of such a host. They could end up as the only channel for controversial ideas and information.

Since its launch in 2013, the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer has quickly become the go-to spot for racists on the internet. Women are whores, blacks are inferior and a shadowy Jewish cabal is organizing a genocide against white people. The site can count among its readers Dylann Roof, the white teenager who slaughtered nine African Americans in Charleston in 2015, and James Jackson, who fatally stabbed an elderly black man with a sword in the streets of New York earlier this year.

Traffic is up lately, too, at white supremacist sites like The Right Stuff, Iron March, American Renaissance and Stormfront, one of the oldest white nationalist sites on the internet.

The operations of such extreme sites are made possible, in part, by an otherwise very mainstream internet company—Cloudflare. Based in San Francisco, Cloudflare operates more than 100 data centers spread across the world, serving as a sort of middleman for websites—speeding up delivery of a site's content and protecting it from several kinds of attacks. Cloudflare says that some 10 percent of web requests flow through its network, and the company's mainstream clients range from the FBI to the dating site OKCupid.

The widespread use of Cloudflare's services by racist groups is not an accident. Cloudflare has said it is not in the business of censoring websites and will not deny its services to even the most offensive purveyors of hate.

"A website is speech. It is not a bomb," Cloudflare's CEO Matthew Prince wrote in a 2013 blog post defending his company's stance. "There is no imminent danger it creates and no provider has an affirmative obligation to monitor and make determinations about the theoretically harmful nature of speech a site may contain."

Cloudflare also has an added appeal to sites such as The Daily Stormer. It turns over to the hate sites the personal information of people who criticize their content. For instance, when a reader figures out that Cloudflare is the internet company serving sites like The Daily Stormer, they sometimes write to the company to protest. Cloudflare, per its policy, then relays the name and email address of the person complaining to the hate site, often to the surprise and regret of those complaining.

This has led to campaigns of harassment against those writing in to protest the offensive material. People have been threatened and harassed.

ProPublica asked Cloudflare's top lawyer about its policy of sharing information on those who complain about racist sites. The lawyer, Doug Kramer, Cloudflare's general counsel, defended the company's policies by saying it is "base constitutional law that people can face their accusers." Kramer suggested that some of the people attacking Cloudflare's customers had their own questionable motives.

SOURCE

UPDATE:  Cloudflare say:

Last Thursday, ProPublica published an article critiquing our handling of some abuse reports that we receive. Feedback from the article caused us to reevaluate how we handle abuse reports. As a result, we've decided to update our abuse reporting system to allow individuals reporting threats and child sexual abuse material to do so anonymously.

1 comment:

Bird of Paradise said...

The liberal nazis oh how liberal were the nazis? Very very liberal