Tech companies’ ban of Nazi sites raises questions of free speech

Kramer Phillips By Kramer Phillips | 3 years ago

In the wake of the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday, which left one woman dead and dozens injured, a number of tech companies shut down The Daily Stormer’s website, saying it violated their terms of service by promoting violence.

The Daily Stormer has promoted anti-Semitic, racist, misogynistic, and anti-gay content since it was founded in 2013 by a neo-Nazi, according to a report by HuffPost.

But the CEO of Cloudflare, one of the tech companies that booted The Daily Stormer from the Internet, warned staffers in an email Wednesday that his decision to shut down the neo-Nazi website set a bad precedent because it opens the door for internet companies to shut down sites on a whim or due to some personal opposition to their content.

“I woke up in a bad mood and decided someone shouldn’t be allowed on the Internet,” wrote Matthew Prince, the CEO of Cloudflare, as reported by HuffPost. “No one should have that power.”

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a nonprofit organization dedicated to defending civil liberties in the digital world, agrees.

“All fair-minded people must stand against the hateful violence and aggression that seems to be growing across our country,” the EFF said, in a statement. “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 we agree with.”

Twitter, GoFundMe, OkCupid, and AirBnB all suspended accounts of people identified as having attended the Charlottesville rally.

The Daily Stormer has told readers it would continue to exist on the dark web.