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GoDaddy boots white supremacist web site after offensive post

Spurned by Major Companies, The Daily Stormer Returns to the Web With Help From a Startup

Postby smix » Sun Aug 20, 2017 8:53 am

Spurned by Major Companies, The Daily Stormer Returns to the Web With Help From a Startup
ProPublica

URL: https://www.propublica.org/article/spur ... to-the-web
Category: Politics
Published: August 18, 2017

Description: The 20-year-old founder of BitMitigate said he had taken on the neo-Nazi website because he believes in free speech and because, “I thought it would really get my service out there.”
The neo-Nazi site The Daily Stormer was back online Friday with help from a small company whose founder said he wanted to defend free speech and raise the commercial profile of his new venture. The Daily Stormer was dumped by several internet service providers this week after it posted a story mocking the appearance of Heather Heyer, the 32-year-old woman killed on Saturday in Charlottesville. By mid-week, it was accessible only through what is known as the dark web, a corner of the internet that is not easily accessible to ordinary users. Nick Lim, the 20-year-old founder of the company BitMitigate, said he offered his services to Daily Stormer founder Andrew Anglin because he believes in free speech, but also to get the word out about his company, which protects websites from so-called denial of services attacks that overwhelm internet servers. “People should be given the right to express their ideas,” he said, adding: “I thought it would really get my service out there.” According to Lim, he was monitoring news reports and learned that services like Cloudflare, along with GoDaddy and Google, had dropped The Daily Stormer after an outcry from activists. He thought their actions violated Anglin’s rights to free speech and reached out to The Daily Stormer to offer help. Lim, whose domain bitmitigate.com was registered in March, said he was small compared to giants like Cloudflare, and also wanted to create publicity for his company. “This whole thing is really entertaining,” he said. When asked if he knew what The Daily Stormer was, Lim said he hadn’t really looked into it. When a ProPublica reporter described the site’s ideology and its history of trolling its critics, Lim said it sounded stupid. He then took a look himself at what The Daily Stormer had posted today, and he was even more dismissive. “I think there’s a lot of stupid ideas here,’’ he said. “But frankly it’s not my decision or something I really want to get involved in.” Lim said that while he was not part of the fringe right, he did not not want to either condemn or endorse the views of his clients. Asked if he would consider dropping a client for any reason, he said he would do so if the actual site harmed people in some way. Lim said he would not drop a client for ideology, content or calls to harrass specific people. He criticized Cloudflare, the web security company, for dropping The Daily Stormer as a client. “It’s actually quite ironic the decision made by Cloudflare. It’s not like they really care about the people they protect — they protect several ISIS websites,” he said. A representative from Cloudflare did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Lim doesn’t take money from Anglin, or from any site he protects with his services. He admitted he was losing money, but hopes his other service, protecting servers for video games like Minecraft, will make up for it. Late night on Thursday, and into the early hours of Friday, Lim tweeted his disdain for the left and his concern that free speech was being eroded. “People think they are doing good by silencing white supremacists but in reality they are chipping away at constitutional rights,” he said in one tweet, adding later, “Is the left evil or just stupidevil?”
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Namecheap pulls the plug on neo-Nazi site Daily Stormer

Postby smix » Sun Aug 20, 2017 6:41 pm

Namecheap pulls the plug on neo-Nazi site Daily Stormer
CNET

URL: https://www.cnet.com/news/namecheap-pul ... y-stormer/
Category: Politics
Published: August 20, 2017

Description: Webhost notes site's violent and anti-Semitic content in decision to become the latest to delete the hate site's domain registration.
The Daily Stormer again finds itself without a webhost after Namecheap said Sunday it wouldn't host the neo-Nazi website due to its message of hate and violence. The site, dubbed the "top hate site in America," registered with Namecheap on Friday after being turned out by Google, GoDaddy and its Russian registrar. The site has been the target of criticism since it published an offensive story about Heather Heyer, who was killed earlier this month while counter-protesting against white supremacist protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia. Namecheap CEO Richard Kirkendall wrote in a blog post that he had examined the site's content to determine whether deleting the site's domain would contradict the registrar's advocacy of free speech. He cited specific references of incitements to violence and graphic anti-Semitic statements that factored into the company's decision. "This alone is a drastic departure from traditional freedom of speech principles and endorsement of a very violent eventuality," Kirkendall wrote. "Based on this statement alone, the site should be legitimately shut down as the speech constitutes an incitement of violence." With the move, Namecheap joins a slew of companies and organizations seeking to distance themselves from white supremacist activity on the web. Apple and PayPal have disabled support of their services at websites that sell merchandise glorifying white nationalists and support hate groups, while Reddit and Facebook have each banned entire hate groups. On Wednesday, internet security provider Cloudflare dropped its support for the website, essentially allowing it to be taken down with a denial-of-service attack. Twitter also joined the campaign by suspending the accounts linked to the website. The site has retreated to the darknet, a part of the web that can only be accessed through the Tor Project's browser, which hides users' online identities.
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‘Is this the Day the Internet Dies?’

Postby smix » Mon Aug 21, 2017 8:23 pm

‘Is this the Day the Internet Dies?’
National Review

URL: http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/45 ... ernet-dies
Category: Politics
Published: August 18, 2017

Description: When I wrote my recent article for NRO arguing that we must regulate Internet monopolies as public utilities, I had no idea how timely it would become. I submitted it to NR on Friday afternoon (The day before Charlottesville) with the plans to run it on Monday. The news out of Virginia kicked everything back a bit and it ended up running on Tuesday. By Tuesday night, perhaps coincidentally, Tucker Carlson was making the same argument on his popular TV show. A bit later in the week, the big Internet companies began undertaking an orgy of censorship far beyond that even described in my article–kicking dozens of sites from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, PayPal, and numerous hosting providers. I’ve been on the web for a long time—When I started using the web, there were about one hundred web sites in the entire world. Even in those early days, the Internet’s greatest strength has always been freedom—It’s a place you can promote, great ideas, terrible ideas, silly ideas, or just display your collection of thousands of vintage beer cans to the world. But right now that freedom is under threat like never before. Let’s be clear, I am sure most of the people who are getting kicked off of various platforms are bad, bad guys. But in America, we even let the bad guys speak—and we counter their bad speech with better speech. Of course, I understand people get offended at the hate speech such as we heard at the Charlottesville rally: “Separation. We don’t want to integrate with these people. We’re tired of being with them. We want to be with ourselves in a land of our own.” Oh no wait, that wasn’t the Charlottesville rally, that was posted by Louis Farrakhan on his Facebook Page the day after Charlottesville. Two days later he posted a picture of himself with Carlos Santana. Should Amazon stop selling Carlos Santana’s racist music? Will Facebook not take down this Santana’s hateful pages? Or Farrakhan’s? One laughs at the thought of it– that’s the power of liberal privilege. Contrast the free hand given to left-wing offensive speech to the strict controls put on right-wing speech. As just one of many examples, Gab— a free-speech social network that has grown rapidly to almost a quarter million users since its public launch just a few months ago, was just yesterday kicked off the Android app store (it has already been repeatedly denied at Apple) for “hate speech.” To be clear, not all the voices on Gab are mellifluous, they have accepted a number of folks, often from the far right, who have been banned from other social networks (though this is a small portion of Gab’s user base) But Gab is content neutral, describing itself in a recent successful crowdfunding campaign as “an ad-free social network for creators who believe in free speech, individual liberty, and the free flow of information online. Gab stands for bringing folks together of all races, religions, and creeds who share in the common ideals of Western values, individual liberty, and the free exchange of ideas.” Wow—I mean, that sounds like literally Hitler. If Google and Apple are banning Gab, mainstream conservatives are crazy to think they are safe. Ironically one of the Internet’s worst sites provides one of the best examples of the dangers of our current moment. Daily Stormer, a vile Neo-Nazi site, was kicked off the Internet entirely this week when numerous infrastructure entities refused to host it and when finally CloudFlare, which prevented the web site from being attacked by hackers, refused to proxy for it or protect it anymore. Daily Stormer is as racist and anti-Semitic as anything I’ve ever seen on the Internet. But they also had, prominently placed on the front of their site, a statement disclaiming violence and indicating that anyone threatening violence anywhere on their site would be banned. If being vile is grounds for not being able to speak, the Internet would be a much smaller place. There need to be both strong protections for free speech, and as CloudFlare’s CEO noted for due process. The decision of CloudFlare to ban Daily Stormer explained in a private company email and then subsequently largely reproduced in a public blogpost. is actually remarkable for its honesty. Mathew Prince, Cloudflare’s CEO, wrote that “Let me be clear that this was an arbitrary decision. . . I woke up in a bad mood and decided to kick them off the Internet. . . It was a decision I could make because I’m the CEO of a major Internet infrastructure company. No one should have that power.” According to Prince one of his employees, understanding the full import the banning, asked him: “ Is this the day the Internet dies?” I don’t know. But I do know that the threats to free expression, particularly threats to speech from the right, on the Internet have never been greater. Conservatives, and more importantly, Republicans in Congress, need to speak up and put a stop to the censoring, speech-stifling madness of the Silicon Valley mafia. If we don’t stand up, even for speakers we loathe, the leftists will just increase their demands for censorship until they come to our own doorstep. If you think people who want to blow up Mount Rushmore and demolish the Jefferson Memorial are going to be happy just going after going after neo-Nazis, then I’ve got some land on the National Mall I’d love to sell you. I think there may be some prime-location building space there soon.



How to Break Silicon Valley’s Anti-Free-Speech Monopoly
National Review

URL: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/4 ... -utilities
Category: Politics
Published: August 15, 2017

Description: It’s time to treat Google, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter like public utilities.
In the wake of the outrageous and possibly illegal firing of James Damore for writing a memo that pushed back against Google’s “politically correct monoculture that maintains its hold by shaming dissenters into silence,” the company has been the focus of an eminently deserved torrent of criticism. A fair bit of this critique has gone beyond the particular situation of Mr. Damore to look at the general hostility of the technology industry to conservatives and conservative thought. Unfortunately, what has been lacking from almost all of these cris de coeur is a strategy regarding what to do about it. Fortunately, there are some things we can do that could turn the tables on Silicon Valley’s leftist censorship and restore free speech to the Internet. But first, some background. The evidence of Silicon Valley’s hostility to the Right is everywhere. Prominent conservatives from Michelle Malkin to William Jacobson to Dennis Prager (just to name a few NRO contributors) — and an even greater proportion of those whose politics lean farther to the right, many of whom do not have access to mainstream media and rely on social media to fund their work — have seen themselves banned from major Internet platforms or had their content censored or demonetized. In most cases they are not even given grounds for their punishment or means of appealing it. While some more “mainstream” conservatives may not feel excessively troubled by the banning of more provocative voices farther to the right, in taking this attitude they make a tactical, strategic, and moral mistake. They do not understand how the Left operates. When voices farther to the right are removed, mainstream conservatives become the new “far-right extremists” — and they will be banned with equal alacrity. In my scholarly work, I write primarily about energy policy, in which electric utilities are usually referred to as “natural monopolies.” Government regulation of these utilities has traditionally been justified to avoid having multiple companies building redundant and costly infrastructure and distribution assets. For conservatives, the time has begun to think of some major Web services — in particular Facebook, Google, YouTube, and Twitter — in the same way. Yes, they are private companies, just as many utilities are. And yes, these Internet monopolies do not have the same physical-infrastructure advantages that electric-utility monopolies have. But because of their network effects, their dominance and monopoly power are in many ways even starker. If I don’t like my utility I can put solar panels on my roof and an inverter and battery in my garage, and I can still get power. But if I can’t get access to the 2 billion people on Facebook because Facebook doesn’t like my politics, my rights of free expression are greatly curtailed. And despite the fact that these are private companies, they may be violating free-speech law, as Internet-law professor Mark Grabowski has detailed in the Washington Examiner. In Packingham v. North Carolina last month, the Supreme Court unanimously struck down a North Carolina law barring sex offenders from accessing social-media platforms, with the Court repeatedly and strongly emphasizing that social media are now a crucial part of the public square. As Grabowski notes, California’s state constitution protects free speech in some privately owned spaces, such as shopping malls. Arguably, that protection should now extend to social media — and all the major tech companies are headquartered in California. But even if such arguments are not brought before the courts, the market-dominance or monopoly issue still remains a potent justification for regulation. The value of a social network such as Facebook grows proportionally with the square of the number of people connected to it (a finding known as Metcalfe’s law, promulgated by networking pioneer Bob Metcalfe almost 40 years ago). Eighty-nine percent of U.S. Internet users are on Facebook. Twitter has more than 300 million users and plays a critical gatekeeper and distribution role in the high-speed promulgation of content and news. Google owns 88 percent of total U.S. search revenue. YouTube is similarly dominant in video. Given their market-dominant positions, these companies control a substantial share of the information that Americans consume and therefore should be run in a politically neutral fashion. Instead, they have doubled down on politically motivated censorship — demonetizing right-wing content providers (unilaterally declaring their content to be unfit to have commercials) or even banning them while doing nothing about politically favored ones. But there are solutions to this abuse of monopolistic power. These solutions need not be excessively burdensome or intrusive. They could focus on creating a simple regulatory regime that would ensure these monopolistic companies:
1, Do not censor any content that is compliant with the First Amendment to the United States Constitution; and
2, Do not fully demonetize any user’s content, pulling ads from posts only when the advertiser has requested such action be taken.
In addition, going forward, these companies’ records should be liable to be subpoenaed by the appropriate congressional committees to ensure that they have not abused their monopoly powers in ways that disfavor relevant content for political reasons, which they almost certainly do today. In the electric-utility industry, laws and regulatory bodies exist to ensure that the owners of transmission and distribution networks cannot arbitrarily discriminate against certain generators. The same if not greater standards should apply to speech. Such a proposal is hardly pie-in-the-sky — in fact, a version of this idea has reportedly been pushed privately by the White House’s Steve Bannon, who, not coincidentally, has been among the most Internet-savvy voices on the right. Even before the Damore firing there were plenty of ominous signs. YouTube had promised “tougher treatment to videos that aren’t illegal but have been flagged by users as potential violations of our policies on hate speech and violent extremism.” The supposed focus of this effort was videos promoting terrorism, but right-wing content providers were immediately affected, with their channels banned or demonetized in many instances.
What is needed is not regulation to restrict speech but regulation specifically to allow speech.
The stakes of inaction are clear. In a major profile in the The New York Times Magazine earlier this month, YouTube was referred to as “The New Talk Radio” providing right-wing and conservative content not available in mainstream sources and as a result serving as a rallying point for those on the right. The Times highlights Lauren Southern, Paul Joseph Watson, Ezra Levant, and Stephen Crowder as among the dangerous rightists on YouTube. Sophisticated watchers of the Right will recognize that these individuals belong to very different groups with different relationships to the conservative mainstream. But they should all be able to speak freely. While I understand and share the concern about allowing government interference in private businesses, even those with monopoly power, we should not allow the conservative ship to be wrecked on the shoals of philosophical abstraction. What is needed is not regulation to restrict speech but regulation specifically to allow speech — regulation put on monopolist and market-dominant companies that have abused their positions repeatedly. Regulating these monopolies for the purpose of protecting free speech is a far different matter than regulating them to restrict free speech. To argue otherwise, to quote William F. Buckley in a different context, “is the equivalent of saying that the man who pushes an old lady into the path of a hurtling bus is not to be distinguished from the man who pushes an old lady out of the path of a hurtling bus: on the grounds that, after all, in both cases someone is pushing old ladies around.” As bans and financial threats have become increasingly frequent, some on the right have moved from Facebook and Twitter to new platforms such as Gab. But while I wish Gab well and think it is vital that the Right build its own social-media ecosystem outside of leftist control, that is no substitute for the ability to speak to and interact with the mainstream — where people who might not be exposed to the ideas of the Right can be engaged with and persuaded. We need to be able to tweet to the unconverted, not just the choir. YouTube promotes its “Creators for Change” program by writing that “no matter what kind of videos we make, we all have the power to help create the world we want.” But if Silicon Valley has its way, that won’t be true for conservatives. I personally know some executives at these companies who are politically open-minded. But taken as a whole, I don’t trust them to offer a free, open, and politically unbiased platform. And neither should anyone else. That’s why we need to make sure that these monopolies and platforms — which have been shielded with their privileges, such as the Safe Harbor provisions of the 1998 Digital Millenium Copyright Act — respect the free speech of all Americans, not just those who agree with them. This administration can drain the Silicon Valley swamp and create change. To do it is going to require investigations from conservative journalists, legislation from Congress, regulation from appropriate regulatory bodies, and ultimately the support of President Trump. The notion that social-media companies are utilities (and therefore might be regulated like utilities) did not originate in the fevered minds of right-wing policy analysts. For many years Mark Zuckerberg described Facebook as “a social utility” made up of “lots of separate networks.” He also described Facebook as “more like a government than a traditional company.” “What we’re trying to do is just make it really efficient for people to communicate, get information, and share information. We always try to emphasize the utility component,” Zuckerberg said. But increasingly these platforms are making it as hard as possible for those on the right to communicate and share information. Facebook, Google, and their ilk are indeed utilities, utilities that deliver public benefits and not just private ones. It’s time for Congress and the Trump administration to start treating them that way.



In banning white-supremacist websites, progressive tech giants set a dangerous precedent.
National Review

URL: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/4 ... -precedent
Category: Politics
Published: August 21, 2017

Description: Last week, multiple major Internet corporations essentially cooperated to kick a hate site, The Daily Stormer, off the Internet. Cloudflare, GoDaddy, Google, and various other companies withdrew their services, and now one of the Internet’s most odious sites lives mainly on the “dark web,” largely inaccessible to the casual user. This was an ominous development for free speech — and not because there is anything at all valuable about The Daily Stormer’s message. It’s an evil site. Its message is vile. Instead, The Daily Stormer’s demise is a reminder that a few major corporations now have far more power than the government to regulate and restrict free speech, and they’re hardly neutral or unbiased actors. They have a point of view, and they’re under immense pressure to use that point of view to influence public debate. It’s a simple reality that the lines of Internet communication are in progressive political hands, these progressive corporations look to left-wing activists to define hate, and a large number of leftists believe to the core of their beings that “hateful” speech should be censored and suppressed whenever possible. For example, just this week ProPublica, a respected journalism outlet, decided to study “how leading tech companies monetize hate.” The article begins by highlighting not the Klan or a white-supremacist militia but instead Jihadwatch.org. And how did it choose Jihad Watch? It relied on the Southern Poverty Law Center, a group that is notorious for supplementing its lists of white-supremacist hate groups with its own ideological enemies list, one that a university radical would love. It singles out mainstream Christian organizations like the Family Research Council and the Alliance Defending Freedom as hate groups because they defend and support orthodox Christian beliefs on marriage, sexuality, and gender identity. It challenges Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch because he argues that “traditional Islam itself is not moderate or peaceful.” That’s a highly debatable proposition (indeed, there are Muslims who agree with Spencer), but is it akin to white supremacy? After all, enormous numbers of people in the Muslim world believe in the death penalty for, among other things, blasphemy or apostasy. Those are mainstream Muslim views. Are those views “moderate?” Are those views “peaceful?” The SPLC even calls American Enterprise Institute scholar Charles Murray — Charles Murray — a “white nationalist.” Does that mean ProPublica is going to call out corporations that help AEI process its online donations? ProPublica does at least acknowledge the controversy over the SPLC’s rankings but then waves it away by arguing that the SPLC “documents its decision” about the Family Research Council by “citing the evangelical lobbying group’s promotion of discredited science and unsubstantiated attacks on gay and lesbian people.” But did ProPublica do its own research on the FRC? What about the many other mainstream groups the SPLC labels as hateful? From its story, it looked like ProPublica simply accepted the SPLC list and ran its analysis. In fact, the SPLC’s language about the FRC is so inflammatory and one-sided that in 2012 it inspired a man named Floyd Lee Corkins to attempt to massacre as many FRC employees as he could and stuff Chick-fil-A sandwiches in their dead mouths. In 2016, the SPLC inspired a violent attack on Charles Murray when he tried to speak at Middlebury College. A number of the protesters reported that they hadn’t read Murray’s work. They relied entirely on the SPLC’s inaccurate summary of his views.
No one weeps for The Daily Stormer, but censors often start with the easy targets.
None of this is happening in a free-speech vacuum. In some progressive enclaves even the most ordinary and mainstream of assertions cause meltdowns. The examples are too numerous to mention, but who can forget the physical threats on Evergreen State College professor Bret Weinstein when he objected to a plan to exclude white students and professors from campus for a day? Who can forget the incredible, overheated response at Yale University to the suggestion that adult students should be free to choose their own Halloween costumes? And let’s remember that it was just days ago that Google — a company that claims to value free expression — summarily fired an employee for making good-faith arguments about sex differences that are “well-supported by large volumes of research across species, cultures, and history.” When Cloudflare terminated its relationship with The Daily Stormer, its CEO sounded a word of warning. In an e-mail to company employees, he said, “Literally, I woke up in a bad mood and decided someone shouldn’t be allowed on the Internet. No one should have that power.” In fact, he explicitly hoped that his actions would “not set a precedent.” But he has set a precedent. So has Google. So has GoDaddy. It’s a precedent that activists will cite time and again — it’s a precedent that ProPublica just cited — to try to force the most powerful communications companies in the world to use their immense reach to restrict debate on the most consequential issues in public life. Americans by default and without any meaningful choice are putting their trust in a collection of companies that are largely ideological monocultures disproportionately influenced by the social-justice Left. No one weeps for The Daily Stormer, but censors often start with the easy targets, and even a cynic like me was surprised at how quickly ProPublica started probing tech companies’ relationships with far more mainstream organizations. The move from The Daily Stormer to the Family Research Council isn’t a slippery slope, it’s a plunge off a cliff of reason and rationality, yet it’s a plunge that all too many Americans are willing to take. They see no distinction between orthodox Christians and the Klan, and they’ll pressure corporations to see the world the same way. There are no easy answers to our cultural drift away from free speech, but the first line of defense is persuasion. There are people of goodwill at companies such as Google, Cloudflare, and GoDaddy — people who understand the high cost of censorship and the dangers of ideological uniformity. They understand that the proper cure for bad speech is better speech. Indeed, they remain powerful enough that our online culture is still vibrant and largely free. They cannot and must not fall for the activism and hectoring of ideological opportunists.
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Free Speech Issues Raised by Internet Companies Denying Service to Neo-Nazi Sites

Postby smix » Thu Aug 24, 2017 9:46 pm

Free Speech Issues Raised by Internet Companies Denying Service to Neo-Nazi Sites
Verdict

URL: https://verdict.justia.com/2017/08/23/f ... nazi-sites
Category: Politics
Published: August 23, 2017

Description: Last week, GoDaddy canceled the website registration for the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer following an extremely misogynistic post on the site mocking Heather Heyer, the young woman who was murdered in Charlottesville by a neo-Nazi who (it certainly appears) deliberately drove his car into her and numerous other counter-demonstrators. The Daily Stormer re-registered with Google, but it also quickly withdrew the registration. Both GoDaddy and Google cited violations of their contractual Terms of Service (ToS). The Daily Stormer moved briefly to a Russian host, but was soon banned there as well. Then, after migrating to the so-called dark web, The Daily Stormer reportedly re-emerged via a startup company on Friday, but as this column goes to press, typing “dailystormer.com” into a browser does not take one to the site, because a website needs more than name registration to be widely accessible. Whether The Daily Stormer will be generally accessible when you read this column is uncertain. Meanwhile, asserting that he has been kicked off of four hosting services already, Daily Stormer publisher Andrew Anglin complained that with no major service willing to register his domain, his publication has been effectively banned from the internet. Since then, additional companies have also taken steps to deny various other kinds of services to white supremacist organizations. No decent person should shed a tear for Anglin, The Daily Stormer, or any of their ilk. Their despicable message and the violence they inspire have no place in a decent society. That said, unworthy causes—indeed, even despicable ones—sometimes pose important tests of basic principles. Here I shall focus initially on the legal rights, if any, of white supremacist and neo-Nazi organizations and speakers to use privately owned internet registration services. I consider their possible rights as a means of raising questions about the rules that apply to other, more worthy, customers.
Terms of Service and State Action
There is a simple and clear answer to the question whether the legal rights of Anglin or The Daily Stormer were violated by GoDaddy, Google, or the other private companies that have refused to continue doing business with or for it. They were not. Under the GoDaddy ToS, GoDaddy had the power to terminate a domain registration based on the user’s “morally objectionable activities,” including “[a]ctivities designed to encourage unlawful behavior by others, such as hate crimes.” Perhaps Anglin believes that The Daily Stormer engaged in hate speech but did not encourage hate crimes, but even if that were true, it would not help his cause, because the ToS assign the determination of what constitutes encouraging hate crimes to “GoDaddy in its sole discretion.” Google’s ToS document is similar. It does not directly bar hate speech, but it reserves to Google the right to terminate domain registrations for violations of Google policies. A separate document specifies that all Google services are offered as “platforms for free expression,” but hate speech, defined by Google as content with the “primary purpose” of attacking “a protected group . . . crosses the line” of what it will allow. Thus, GoDaddy, Google, and presumably other internet companies from which The Daily Stormer and other white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups were terminated acted within their contractual rights. To be sure, on rare occasions courts invalidate extremely one-sided contract terms as “unconscionable” or void “against public policy,” but there is little chance that The Daily Stormer could prevail on such a claim. What about the First Amendment? It has no purchase here because (with the exception of the Thirteenth Amendment’s prohibition on slavery), the rights set forth in the Constitution apply only against government actors, not private companies like GoDaddy and Google. A First Amendment lawsuit by The Daily Stormer would be immediately dismissed for lack of what the relevant precedents term “state action.”
Private Threats to Freedom of Expression
Although existing law thus makes clear that The Daily Stormer and similar organizations have no legal right to register a domain via a private company, there may be reasons for changing the law. Suppose that a group of Chinese dissidents wants to register a domain name for a site critical of the Chinese government. Companies eager to do business in China might be reluctant to provide the service. Or suppose that an environmental organization wants to register a domain name for a site that is highly critical of major corporations that purchase other services from the firms that offer domain registration. Or—now that the public has become aware that companies like Google and GoDaddy can strip organizations of their domain name registrations—suppose that boycott campaigns against such companies arise. Pro-lifers might boycott one service provider because it counts a pro-choice organization among its customers or vice-versa. Internet companies should not generally be in the position of choosing which organizations, individuals, and firms are too hot to handle, nor should they want to be. Furthermore, there is no good reason private companies, rather than the government, provide domain name registration. To register a trademark, a motor vehicle, or the deed of purchase for real property, people must utilize government services that are undoubtedly subject to the limits of the Constitution. That point was made clear by the Supreme Court just two months ago when, in the case of Matal v. Tam, it unanimously ruled that a federal statute denying registration to offensive trademarks violated the First Amendment. It is a mere accident of history that to register an internet domain name, an organization or individual must use the services of a private company not subject to the First Amendment rather than a government agency that is subject to the First Amendment. There does not appear to be any reason in principle to treat trademarks and other legal rights currently obtained directly from the government differently from domain name registrations. Indeed, in some other countries, Google and GoDaddy would be treated essentially the same as the government, so far as free speech rights of persons and organizations registering domain names are concerned. For example, the Bill of Rights of the South African Constitution has horizontal application—meaning that it limits private as well as government actors, “to the extent that, it is applicable, taking into account the nature of the right and the nature of any duty imposed by the right.” Given the size of the companies and the nature of the services—as noted above, comparable to other kinds of registrations that the government provides directly—horizontal application would be appropriate for a case like this.
Congress Should Act
The U.S. Constitution does not have horizontal application, but Congress sometimes enacts statutes that impose on private actors the duty to respect rights comparable to the rights that the Constitution provides against the government. Civil rights statutes are the most notable example. Thus, there is no constitutional right of customers to be able to purchase goods and services from a merchant free of race discrimination, but a merchant who discriminates on that basis violates the customer’s statutory rights under Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Congress could likewise impose obligations to respect freedom of speech on companies that register internet domain names and provide other essential internet services. To be sure, congressional power in this area is not unlimited. If a company publishes its own material on its site, then it has a constitutional right as a speaker to exercise editorial judgment. That’s what the Supreme Court ruled in a 1974 case involving a print newspaper, and the same principle applies online. However, when a company merely registers a domain or rents space on its servers, it is neither speaking nor exercising editorial judgment. In these circumstances, the company is more like a purveyor of ink or paper—materials that can be used for speech but are not themselves speech. Thus, Congress could, without violating the First Amendment rights of internet companies, impose what the law calls “common carrier” obligations.
But Congress Can Draw a Different Line
Most constitutional democracies treat hate speech as outside the protection of freedom of expression. For example, the South African Bill of Rights (the same one that has horizontal application) places “advocacy of hatred that is based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion” beyond protection. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms does not specifically allow for restriction of hate speech, but it includes a general principle allowing “such reasonable limits [on all rights] prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society,” which has been construed to allow hate speech restrictions. The U.S. Supreme Court cases holding that hate speech is not an exception to the First Amendment make the United States an outlier. Readers who think the Supreme Court has gotten it right when it comes to hate speech will likely also think that if Congress were to enact a law making internet companies common carriers, it should not include any exception for hate speech. Under such an approach, if organizations like The Daily Stormer cannot be shut down by the government, then neither should private companies be permitted to deny them internet services. However, others might disagree with the Supreme Court. If so, they might think that internet companies should not be allowed to censor in general but that hate speech should be an exception. This approach is probably available to Congress, which need not draw the exact same lines in its statutes that the Supreme Court has drawn in construing the Constitution. By way of comparison, the Supreme Court has held that government discrimination on the basis of age or disability does not typically offend the Constitution’s equal protection principle. However, Congress was entitled to—and did—reach a different conclusion when it enacted the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and the Americans With Disabilities Act. In so doing, Congress was not attempting to overrule the Supreme Court on a matter of constitutional interpretation; rather, it was reaching its own policy judgment regarding what rights to protect in an area (the regulation of interstate commerce) within its zone of policy discretion. Congress could probably do the same with respect to internet companies. It could enact a statute that generally requires internet companies to act as common carriers but allows a narrow exception for well-defined categories of hate speech. Although the government itself cannot forbid hate speech as such, the precedents do not speak directly to laws that preserve private parties’ ability to disassociate from hate speech. Such a statute would address the risk of private censorship I identified above. Chinese dissidents, environmentalists, and others staking out highly controversial positions would be ensured of a platform on the internet, whereas neo-Nazis would not be. In some circumstances, the law protects despicable actors as the price of protecting everyone else. Here, however, we may not need to take the bitter with the sweet. The Daily Stormer’s case alerts us to the risk of censorship of others. Congress can likely address that risk without sheltering the hate speech of The Daily Stormer itself.
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Why it’s a mistake to celebrate the crackdown on hate websites

Postby smix » Thu Aug 24, 2017 11:46 pm

Why it’s a mistake to celebrate the crackdown on hate websites
The Conversation

URL: https://theconversation.com/why-its-a-m ... ites-82810
Category: Politics
Published: August 21, 2017

Description: The torch-lit march by armed white supremacists recently in Charlottesville, Va., continues to generate debate about how hate groups should be regulated. Amid growing public pressure following the march, internet companies rushed to remove from their platforms websites espousing violent hate speech. GoDaddy terminated its domain services to neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer, as did Google. Cloudflare, a company that protects websites from online attacks, also banned the hate website from its platform. Russia ordered the site barred from being hosted in the country. My research and my book Chokepoints: Global Private Regulation on the Internet demonstrate that many internet companies already remove content and ban users “voluntarily” — that is, in the absence of legislation or any judicial processes. Major intermediaries including Google, PayPal, GoDaddy, Twitter and Facebook voluntarily police their platforms for child sexual abuse content, extremism and the illicit trade in counterfeit goods. Many people understandably applaud these efforts to stamp out hate speech and other objectionable content. However, internet companies’ efforts as de facto regulators of speech raises serious questions: How should online content be regulated? By whom? I do not support white supremacists and I am not arguing against some policing of such speech. Rather, I am saying that we need to consider seriously how to regulate online content as the next case may not be as clear cut. There are significant problems with relying upon powerful companies to police the internet because their enforcement practices are troublingly opaque and prone to arbitrary interpretation.
Disturbing precedent
In a sobering contrast to the cheering of internet companies for their public opposition to the Daily Stormer, Cloudflare’s CEO Matthew Prince offered a nuanced, cautionary perspective, warning that withdrawing services from hate groups in response to public pressure sets a troubling precedent in policing online speech. In a blog post explaining Cloudflare’s actions against the Daily Stormer, Prince argued that the company considers due process a “more important principle” than freedom of speech. Due process, he said, means that “you should be able to know the rules a system will follow if you participate in that system.” This statement aptly captures the inherent problems with intermediaries working as de facto regulators of content and online behaviour. Earlier this year, Shopify employees and hundreds of thousands of people urged and petitioned the online commerce platform to stop hosting far-right Breitbart Media’s internet store. Reinstated executive chairman Stephen Bannon calls Breitbart “the platform for the alt-right.” The so-called “alt-right” – a term popularized by Richard Bertrand Spencer – covers a mix of white supremacist, separatist, neo-Nazi, fascist, racist, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic and populist conservative ideologies. Shopify CEO Tobias Lütke said he was defending free speech as the Ottawa company continued to host Breitbart’s online store under threat of employees resigning. After public pressure and a grassroots campaign dubbed #DeleteShopify led to scrutiny that revealed more questionable business, Shopify was forced to adopt an “Acceptable use policy.” The contrasting examples of The Daily Stormer and its deletion by internet companies, and Shopify’s steadfast support for Breitbart, demonstrate extremes of a dilemma that only promises to intensify.
Arbitrary policies, regulation
Internet intermediaries have the potential to be powerful regulators on a wide variety of issues because they can act swiftly and without court orders. Importantly, they have latitude to censor any content or ban users under their terms-of-service agreements. PayPal reserves the right to terminate its services to users “for any reason and at any time,” language that is echoed in most intermediaries’ service agreements. The capacity for arbitrary regulation is thus baked into intermediaries’ internal rules. Prince cautioned that Cloudflare’s action against the Daily Stormer sets a precedent for intermediaries to police speech without court orders requiring them to do so. These intermediaries often act at the behest of governments that prefer companies to be the public (but largely unaccountable) face of internet regulation. But those firms are generally ill-equipped to distinguish legality from illegality, causing wrongful takedowns and mistakenly targeting lawful behaviour. Equally problematic: Intermediaries’ enforcement processes are often opaque as their content moderators arbitrarily interpret their complex, fast-changing internal rules. These problems are compounded by intermediaries’ growing use of automated tools to identify and remove problematic content on their platforms. There is also the concern of so-called mission-creep when rules first enacted against child abuse or terrorism – noteworthy catalysts for enforcement action – are later applied to other distinctly less-harmful issues, such as the unauthorized downloading of copyrighted content.
Dystopian future is here
Regulatory efforts commonly expand from censoring violent hate speech to other speech that may be considered controversial by some, such as that of Black Lives Matter. As well, governments worldwide regularly pressure intermediaries to censor and track critics and political opponents. When major intermediaries become go-to regulators responsible for policing content on behalf of governments or in response to high-profile protests, their already considerable power increases. U.S.-based internet companies already dominate many industry sectors, including search, advertising, domain registration, payment and social media. Cloudflare’s Prince rightly warned that by depending on a “few giant networks,” a “small number of companies will largely determine what can and cannot be online.” This dystopian future is already here. The takedown of the Daily Stormer undoubtedly makes the world a better place. But do we really want companies like Facebook and Twitter to decide – independently, arbitrarily and secretly – what content we can access and share? Given these seemingly intractable problems, what can we do? First, we should avoid governing on the basis of protests or media pressure. Instead, we need a clear set of rules to enable intermediaries to respond consistently, transparently and with respect for due process, as Prince recommended. Governments should clarify the nature of and, importantly, the limitations of intermediaries’ regulatory responsibilities. Finally, we must stop governing in response to specific crises – so-called “fake news,” terrorism and hate groups – and instead think critically about how we can and should govern the internet.
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White supremacist forum site Stormfront seized by domain hosts

Postby smix » Tue Aug 29, 2017 4:08 pm

White supremacist forum site Stormfront seized by domain hosts
Knoxville News Sentinel

URL: http://www.knoxnews.com/story/news/2017 ... 604902001/
Category: Politics
Published: August 26, 2017

Description: Stormfront, an international supremacist web forum, appears to have been seized by its website host, Network Solutions, LLC. The forum disappeared Friday. WhoIs, a web service that tracks site ownership, reported the Stormfront domain's status as "under hold." According to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, a nonprofit that coordinates name spaces on the Internet, a hold status is an uncommon status that indicates a site is under legal dispute or about to be deleted. Network Solutions has also prohibited Stormfront from updating, transferring or deleting its web forum on its own. That means Stormfront's web masters cannot re-introduce the site on another domain. Should Network Solutions go through with deleting the website itself, any re-emerging version would have to start from scratch. The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law has claimed responsibility for the site's removal. Executive Director Kristen Clarke said in an email that the nonprofit group has "taken action against Stormfront." "Their website is a vehicle used to promote racially-motivated violence and hate," Clarke wrote. The Committee said they sent a letter citing a clause in Network Solutions Acceptable Use Policy, which prohibits using their domains "to display bigotry, discrimination or hatred.” Stormfront has been online for about 20 years. "Following our efforts, Network Solutions has pulled the site," Clarke said. "And while bringing down one site won't terminate their efforts, it will make it a little more difficult for white supremacists to sow hatred." The site's removal comes less than two weeks after the domain host GoDaddy told the supremacist commentary site The Daily Stormer that it had 24 hours to find a new web host after the site published a post praising the death of Heather Heyer, who was killed at a violent supremacist rally in Charlottseville that the site referred to as "The Battle of Charlottesville." Google pulled its support for the site soon after. The internet security service CloudFlare also removed its protections from The Daily Stormer. So when the site found a new domain with Dreamhost, the host reportedly fell under a mass Distributed Denial of Service attack, which shut The Daily Stormer down again.
Free speech debate
GoDaddy, Google and Cloudflare's decisions to drop services to the Neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer sparked a national debate about freedom of speech on the internet. In an opinion piece to the Wall Street Journal, Matthew Prince, CloudFlare's CEO and co-founder said he was still torn over the decision to remove The Daily Stormer. "Firing a Nazi customer gets you glowing notes from around the world thanking you for standing up to hate. But a week later, I continue to worry about this power and the potential precedent being set," Prince wrote. "I’d like to fall back on the First Amendment. I’m the son of a journalist. I grew up with discussions around the dinner table on the importance of freedom of speech," he continued. "But the First Amendment doesn’t compel private companies to let anyone broadcast on their platforms." The Stormfront forum is also a CloudFlare client. Spokeswoman Daniella Vallurupalli declined comment on the status of its service agreement with the website. "Cloudflare's policy is to not comment on users without their permission," she said.
Summit plans murky
Don Black, a former Grand Wizard in the Klu Klux Klan and member of the American Nazi Party, launched Stormfront about 20 years ago as an online bulletin board system. The website had amassed more than 300,000 members on at least four continents before its disappearance. Black began hosting summits for the online community in East Tennessee in 2010. This year, the group was planning its seventh annual "Great Smoky Mountain Summit" at an undisclosed location near Knoxville. Plans for the summit included appearances by Klu Klux Klan attorney Sam Dickson and David Duke, another prominent former KKK leader. It is unclear if those plans will go on now that the forum has been removed. The USA Today Network—Tennessee has reached out to Black via email and Twitter to find out if plans for the summit continue. Black's email however, is registered on the same domain as Stormfront, so Black may not be able to access the message.
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Neo-Nazi site finds home in Iceland

Postby smix » Mon Sep 25, 2017 7:32 pm

Neo-Nazi site finds home in Iceland
BBC News

URL: http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-trending-41323726
Category: Politics
Published: September 19, 2017

Description: Neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer has reappeared on the publicly available internet after registering a domain in Iceland. The site was shut down at the end of August after it elicited widespread condemnation for a viral blog post mocking the death of a protestor at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. The site was launched in 2013 and had previous used the domain provider GoDaddy. After apparently encouraging its readers to troll supporters of Heather Heyer, the woman who was killed after a car rammed into a group of protesters near a "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville this August, the website's registration was cancelled by GoDaddy and later denied a home by Google. The site then unsuccessfully tried to register domains in Russia and Albania before it set up on the "dark web" - a subsection of the internet only accessible with a special browser. Iceland has some of the world's most stringent free speech protection and privacy laws, a point stressed by one of the latest stories on The Daily Stormer site. As a furore over paedophile's links to Prime Minister Bjarni Benediktsson has led to the collapse of Iceland's ruling coalition, The Daily Stormer went on to say that they believe this political instability will enable them to keep the domain active for the foreseeable future. Icelandic company OrangeWebsite, which describes itself as a "freedom of speech web hosting provider", is listed as a host of the new site according to registry directory site Whois.com. When contacted by BBC Trending, however, the company said it was simply a proxy and was not directly hosting the site. BBC Trending has also contacted The Daily Stormer for comment. The Daily Stormer takes its inspiration from the Nazi Germany newspaper Der Stuermer, which was infamous for its anti-Jewish propaganda. Its publisher was Julius Streicher, a Nazi Party member who was executed for crimes against humanity in 1946.
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