Networking and web security giant Cloudflare says the recent 8chan controversy may be an ongoing “risk factor” for its business on the back of its upcoming initial public offering. […]
8chan became the second customer to have its service cut off by Cloudflare in the aftermath of the attacks. The first and other time Cloudflare booted one of its customers was neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer in 2017, after it claimed the networking giant was secretly supportive of the website.
Cloudflare, which provides web security and denial-of-service protection for websites, recognizes those customer cut-offs as a risk factor for investors buying shares in the company’s common stock. […]
Cloudflare had long taken a stance of not policing who it provides service to, citing freedom of speech. In a 2015 interview with ZDNet, chief executive Matthew Prince said he didn’t ever want to be in a position where he was making “moral judgments on what’s good and bad,” and would instead defer to the courts. […]
Cloudflare has also come under fire in recent months for allegedly supplying web protection services to sites that promote and support terrorism, including al-Shabaab and the Taliban, both of which are covered under U.S. Treasury sanctions.
In response, the company said it tries “to be neutral,” but wouldn’t comment specifically on the matter.
(Via Cloudflare says cutting off customers like 8chan is an IPO ‘risk factor’ by Zack Whittaker)
I am mixed on this takedown even after a solid week of reflection. There is no doubt in my mind that 8chan is toxic and a blight on humanity, and the same with The Daily Stormer. I’m happy they aren’t being protected by CloudFlare.
However, I don’t like that:
– there’s no oversight into these takedowns;
– CloudFlare acted from public pressure (well, social media pressure), and the mob is oft not rational (or real);
– and, from a technical perspective, these instances offer a problematic precedence.
CloudFlare and similar companies are almost as core to the Internet’s function these days as DNS and NTP. My site is protected by CloudFlare, in fact (and in full disclosure, etc.). They and their competitors are akin to an active Internet insurance policy. Denying core-adjacent functionality and insurance to sites because the sites are reprehensible in giving the dregs of society a place to congregationally amplify their hate seems a no-brainer on first blush. But it also helps lay out a blueprint for blocking sites for far less.
Sadly, I don’t know how I would feel better about or how I would solve this. I’m open to constructive discussion.
To be clear: I agree wth CloudFlare on their actions in regard to 8chan and The Daily Stormer. I would like the actions to get codified into a documented policy.