“Alt-right” white supremacists are crying into their webcams and getting a much-deserved thrashing after the attack in Charlottesville, Virginia, resulted in several injuries and the death of Heather Heyer. Heyer’s message of anti-fascism has been magnified, with chat service Discord banning several racist groups, Spotify removing white supremacist bands from their streaming service, and GoDaddy and Google booting white supremacist website The Daily Stormer off of their service.
The Daily Stormer reportedly moved to the dark web, but they’re going to have trouble securing their website in light of the most recent development. Cloudflare, which provides cloud security and performance service to more than 10% of all internet requests, will no longer protect The Daily Stormer from distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. Without Cloudflare’s service or a similar one, Daily Stormer will likely find its website being rendered unreadable by successful DDoS attacks.
This is an uncharacteristic move for Cloudflare, who have recently been criticized for their policy of noninterference regarding even hate groups. In 2013, Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince said, “A website is speech. It is not a bomb. 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.” Prince decided to make an exception this week, although he tells Gizmodo they haven’t rewritten their policies.
So why make an exception to their ongoing policy? Because The Daily Stormer “was bragging on their bulletin boards about how Cloudflare was one of them and that is the opposite of everything we believe. That was the tipping point for me,” explained Price. He also called them “assholes” in a company email obtained by Gizmodo:
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.
The email went on a bit longer, and Prince expanded on it in a blog post, repeating his concerns about a company deciding who can and can’t buy cloud security. As of this writing, Cloudflare is still protecting other racist sites including Stormfront and The Right Stuff, but hopefully these guttersnipes will be relegated to the trash heap of history with haste.