As we reported over the past week, the hacking group Anonymous is waging war on the Islamic State. But the group claims that their efforts are being hindered by CloudFlare, a prominent Silicon Valley start-up that protects websites from cyberattacks.
— Anonymous (@GroupAnon) November 16, 2015
The CEO of CloudFlare, Matthew Prince, has hit back at Anonymous. Speaking to The Register, Prince said the criticism was “armchair analysis by kids” that was “hard to take seriously.” He added, “Anonymous uses us for some of its sites, despite pressure from some quarters for us to take Anonymous sites offline.”
“Even if we were hosting sites for ISIS, it wouldn’t be of any use to us,” he claimed. “I should imagine those kinds of people pay with stolen credit cards and so that’s a negative for us.”
Nevertheless, CloudFlare does have a history of protecting websties affiliated with Islamic terrorists. In 2013, news emerged that the website “Kavkaz Centre,” a site associated with al-Qaeda, was being protected by CloudFlare’s service. The website was used by militants to claim responsibility for suicide bomb attacks, and served as an official site for “The Caucasian Emirate,” a group seeking an Islamic state in the Caucasus mountains.
At the time, 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.
In his interview with The Register, Prince reiterated his commitment to maintaining a neutral approach to the sites protected by CloudFlare.
It’s not in CloudFlare’s philosophy to just take down sites because management doesn’t agree with the content, Prince said. Some hosting companies exercise tight control about what can be served, but his firm doesn’t want that kind of power.
CloudFlare is a giant among Silicon Valley start-ups and is preparing for a public offering in 2017. The company is valued at more than $1 billion and recently raised $72 million from Venrock Associates, Pelion Venture Partners, New Enterprise Associates, and Union Square Ventures.
Anonymous, the loose-knit online hacking group, declared war on the Islamic State this weekend following terrorist attacks in Paris. So far, they have successfully tracked down and suspended thousands of ISIS-affiliated Twitter accounts, although there are also reports of mistaken suspensions. The Islamic State has mocked Anonymous as ‘idiots’ in response to their declaration of war, but also issued guidance to their own supporters on how to avoid being hacked.