The Slippery Slope of Internet Blacklisting

Demonstrators carry Confederate and Nazi flags during Unite the Right rally at Emancipation Park in Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 12, 2017. (Photo by Emily Molli/NurPhoto, Sipa via AP Images)

How do you feel about various tech providers censoring Daily Stormer in the wake of the Charlottesville riots after the white supremacist site posted a vile, disturbing article attacking the victim of the car-ramming incident? Is this the beginning of the end of Internet freedom or merely an appropriate response to a website that traffics in human thought that is evil and beyond the bounds of human decency? It's not a simple question, by any means.

Before we get into that, it's important to lay out exactly what happened.

  1. Shortly after Heather Heyer was mowed down in Charlottesville, Daily Stormer, a white nationalist neo-Nazi site, posted a depraved article essentially saying she deserved to die because she's an unmarried Bernie supporter — and worse — who was too fat and slow to get out of the way of the speeding vehicle. It was just the most recent example of the unbridled hatred the site spews on a regular basis.
  2. After a public outcry, GoDaddy, the site's domain registrar, cancelled their registration, tweeting late Sunday night: "We informed The Daily Stormer that they have 24 hours to move the domain to another provider, as they have violated our terms of service." It's important to note that GoDaddy wasn't hosting Daily Stormer's content, it was merely the site's registrar, handling registration of "dailystormer.com" in the global domain name system that connects domain names to IP addresses.
  3. Whereupon Daily Stormer (for some bizarre reason) thought Google would be more amenable to registering its domain. Whereupon Google said (paraphrasing): Yeah, right. Take a hike, losers. "We are cancelling Daily Stormer’s registration with Google Domains for violating our terms of service," the company wrote in a statement emailed to Ars Technica.
  4. Currently the site is offline. If you try to go there, you won't find it. For all intents and purposes the site has disappeared from the Internet. Although the content still exists, it's not accessible to the public right now. If you try to go to a specific page (like this one) you will see this message:

 

 

Which redirects you to this:

 

Which brings us to (potentially) the next phase of Daily Stormer's blacklisting. CloudFlare, a service that protects sites from distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, is under immense pressure to remove Daily Stormer from its client list. Thus far they have refused to drop the site. In a statement to TechCrunch, a spokesman said, "CloudFlare is aware of the concerns that have been raised over some sites that have used our network. We find the content on some of these sites repugnant. While our policy is to not comment on any user specifically, we are cooperating with law enforcement in any investigation.” In a statement to Quartz, the company added, "CloudFlare is not the host of any website. CloudFlare is a network that provides performance and security services to more than 10% of all Internet requests. CloudFlare terminating any user would not remove their content from the Internet, it would simply make a site slower and more vulnerable to attack."