Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince said that he “woke up in a bad mood and decided someone shouldn’t be allowed on the internet” following his company’s decision to terminate service for neo-Nazi site The Daily Stormer last week.
However, in 2015, Prince defended himself after facing pressure to rescind service to ISIS-affiliated sites.
“Individuals have decided that there is content they disagree with but the right way to deal with this is to follow the established law enforcement procedures,” Prince proclaimed after a hacking collective provided Cloudflare with a list of ISIS-related websites. “There is no society on Earth that tolerates mob rule because the mob is fickle.”
“We’re the plumbers of the internet… We make the pipes work but it’s not right for us to inspect what is or isn’t going through the pipes,” he continued. “If companies like ours or ISPs (internet service providers) start censoring there would be an uproar. It would lead us down a path of internet censors and controls akin to a country like China.”
According to the IB Times, Google and GoDaddy were also revealed to be providing service to pro-ISIS websites in 2015.
Both Google and GoDaddy also banned the Daily Stormer last week, with Google locking the website’s domain so that it was unable to be moved– essentially stealing the domain.
In a statement last week, Prince called the Daily Stormer “assholes” and cited the fact that he “woke up in a bad mood” as the reason he decided to kick them off his platform.
“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,” declared Prince in an email to employees. “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 with our senior team about yesterday,” he warned. “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.”
Last week, The Electronic Frontier Foundation, one of the largest digital rights organizations, issued a warning to tech companies about censoring neo-Nazis, claiming that the same tools would eventually be used against everyone else.
“Even for free speech advocates, this situation is deeply fraught with emotional, logistical, and legal twists and turns. All fair-minded people must stand against the hateful violence and aggression that seems to be growing across our country,” declared EFF in a blog post. “But we must also recognize that on the Internet, any tactic used now to silence neo-Nazis will soon be used against others, including people whose opinions we agree with.”
“Protecting free speech is not something we do because we agree with all of the speech that gets protected. We do it because we believe that no one—not the government and not private commercial enterprises—should decide who gets to speak and who doesn’t,” they continued. “We at EFF defend the right of anyone to choose what speech they provide online; platforms have a First Amendment right to decide what speech does and does not appear on their platforms. That’s what laws like CDA 230 in the United States enable and protect. But we strongly believe that what GoDaddy, Google, and Cloudflare did here was dangerous.”