The CEO of Cloudfare, Mathew Prince had enough of the Daily Stormer, a neo-nazi site dedicated to fomenting strife amongst races. In an email sent to employees, Prince described his actions as ‘arbitrary’, saying ‘literally, I woke up in a bad mood and decided someone shouldn’t be allowed on the Internet. No one should have that power.’
Here is the full email.
Earlier today Cloudflare terminated the account of the Daily Stormer. We’ve stopped proxying their traffic and stopped answering DNS requests for their sites. We’ve taken measures to ensure that they cannot sign up for Cloudflare’s services again.
This was my decision. Our terms of service reserve the right for us to terminate users of our network at our sole discretion. My rationale for making this decision was simple: the people behind the Daily Stormer are assholes and I’d had enough.
Let me be clear: this was an arbitrary decision. It was different than what I’d talked talked with our senior team about yesterday. I woke up this morning in a bad mood and decided to kick them off the Internet. I called our legal team and told them what we were going to do. I called our Trust & Safety team and had them stop the service. It was a decision I could make because I’m the CEO of a major Internet infrastructure company.
Having made that decision we now need to talk about why it is so dangerous. I’ll be posting something on our blog later today. Literally, I woke up in a bad mood and decided someone shouldn’t be allowed on the Internet. No one should have that power.
(Cloudflare employee’s name redacted) asked after I told him what we were going to do: “Is this the day the Internet dies?” He was half joking, but I actually think it’s an important question. It’s important that what we did today not set a precedent. The right answer is for us to be consistently content neutral. But we need to have a conversation about who and how the content online is controlled. We couldn’t have that conversation while the Daily Stormer site was using us. Now, hopefully, we can.
I’ll be publishing a blog post with all our thoughts on this issue in a few hours. Until then, I’d ask that you not talk about this externally.
Co-founder & CEO
In a blog post describing his decision, Prince openly admits that being judge and jury of what is acceptable content is almost an impossible task, saying that without his companies protection, hackers could easily take down sites they disagree with.
The size and scale of the attacks that can now easily be launched online make it such that if you don’t have a network like Cloudflare in front of your content, and you upset anyone, you will be knocked offline. In fact, in the case of the Daily Stormer, the initial requests we received to terminate their service came from hackers who literally said: “Get out of the way so we can DDoS this site off the Internet.”
You, like me, may believe that the Daily Stormer’s site is vile. You may believe it should be restricted. You may think the authors of the site should be prosecuted. Reasonable people can and do believe all those things. But having the mechanism of content control be vigilante hackers launching DDoS attacks subverts any rational concept of justice.
And here’s the rub. The CEO is obviously conflicted about his actions, taking down a website that he disagrees with. His screed is practically a cry for help, yet he’s doing it in spite of all that. I am shocked that his attorneys permitted him to post this rant, since it opens him up to all sorts of legal issues. Here he is admitting what he’s doing is wrong, wielding the power to arbitrarily take down a site because he woke up in a bad mood — then expecting the world to see it his way and respect his decision.
Someone on our team asked after I announced we were going to terminate the Daily Stormer: “Is this the day the Internet dies?” He was half joking, but only half. He’s no fan of the Daily Stormer or sites like it. But he does realize the risks of a company like Cloudflare getting into content policing.
There’s a saying in legal circles that hard cases make bad law. We need to be careful of that here. What I do hope is it will allow us all to discuss what the framework for all of the organizations listed above should be when it comes to content restrictions. I don’t know the right answer, but I do know that as we work it out it’s critical we be clear, transparent, consistent and respectful of Due Process.
Corporations like Cloudflare and the big web hosting companies literally control the flow of traffic and can do the job that a fascist government wishes it could impose on its people. The political environment is so aggressive now, the leftist tech community are now emboldened to intermingle their views with their business practices. Who in their right mind can make the claim that America is accepting of dissent and permissive of free speech anymore?
By definition, freedom of speech is allowing hate speech to exist. Now that we’ve crossed the rubicon of freedom of expression, all for the good of the public, expect the environment online to get increasingly toxic.
The Daily Stormer got DDoS'd as soon as Cloudflare stopped protecting it. https://t.co/KUgjb5reHL
— Becky Peterson (@beckpeterson) August 17, 2017
If you enjoy the content at iBankCoin, please follow us on Twitter