Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Censorship Communications Network Privacy The Internet Your Rights Online

Cloudflare's CEO Has a Plan To Never Censor Hate Speech Again (arstechnica.com) 393

"Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince hated cutting off service to the infamous neo-Nazi site the Daily Stormer in August," reports Ars Technica. "And he's determined not to do it again. 'I'm almost a free-speech absolutist.' Prince said at an event at the New America Foundation last Wednesday. But in a subsequent interview with Ars, Prince argued that in the case of the Daily Stormer, the company didn't have much choice." From the report: Prince's response was to cut Daily Stormer off while laying the groundwork to make sure he'd never have to make a decision like that again. In a remarkable company-wide email sent shortly after the decision, Prince described his own actions as "arbitrary" and "dangerous." "I woke up this morning in a bad mood and decided to kick them off the Internet," Prince wrote in August. "It was a decision I could make because I'm the CEO of a major Internet infrastructure company." He argued that "it's important that what we did today not set a precedent." Prior to August, Cloudflare had consistently refused to police content published by its customers. Last week, Prince made a swing through DC to help ensure that the Daily Stormer decision does not, in fact, set a precedent. He met with officials from the Federal Communications Commission and with researchers at the libertarian Cato Institute and the left-of-center New America Foundation -- all in an effort to ensure that he'd have the political cover he needed to say no next time he came under pressure to take down controversial content.

The law is strongly on Cloudflare's side here. Internet infrastructure providers like Cloudflare have broad legal immunity for content created by their customers. But legal rights may not matter if Cloudflare comes under pressure from customers to take down content. And that's why Prince is working to cultivate a social consensus that infrastructure providers like Cloudflare should not be in the censorship business -- no matter how offensive its customers' content might be.

Cloudflare's CEO Has a Plan To Never Censor Hate Speech Again

Comments Filter:
  • by SlaveToTheGrind ( 546262 ) on Monday December 04, 2017 @09:20PM (#55677155)

    If it's a "good" website lots of people want to access, any private entity that stands in the way of freely accessing that site = evil.

    If it's a "bad" website lots of people don't want to access, any private entity that supports freely accessing that site = evil.

    Any questions?

    • If a private org wants to censor, fine. Let them brag about it on their signup page.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      It's about freedom. It's impossible for everyone to do anything they like all the time, so there has to be a balance.

      Someone wants to post content on the internet. Someone else doesn't want to host said content because they find it repugnant. There is no solution that doesn't involve disappointing someone.

      You could argue that not forcing someone to do something, i.e. host the content, is the lesser of two evils. You could argue that by offering a service to the public you accept certain responsibilities, su

      • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

        Someone wants to post content on the internet. Someone else doesn't want to host said content because they find it repugnant. There is no solution that doesn't involve disappointing someone.

        That's where you're wrong. There doesn't require a balance, rather all that's required is the host to be "treated as a dumb pipe." See how easy that is?

        There are people who are quite happy to host that content, until someone with an axe to grind decides that they're going to dox, harass, and threaten that person and their family for allowing them to host it. Just remember that there are plenty of groups out there that are more then happy to try and shut you up for having the wrong view point, plenty more

        • the big means to censor at the moment is the "stop funding hate" campaign from a few twitterati activists who are "shaming" companies for advertising on newspapers they find objectionable (though perfectly legal and normal - mainly the Daily Mail at the moment which is a centre-right paper that also has an unhealthy (IMHO) section on celebrity gossip)..

          They've managed to get paperchase and pizza hut to apologise for running adverts in these newspapers - PH for running a "free pizza" giveaway in the Sun news

  • This is good (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 04, 2017 @09:21PM (#55677165)

    Censorship pretty much always ends up being abused. Let the neo-nazis spew their hate, and most people will recognize them for the raving lunatics they are. But don't censor them. That road doesn't lead to anywhere good.

  • Just because... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Arzaboa ( 2804779 ) on Monday December 04, 2017 @09:32PM (#55677241)

    As much as I can't stand the content, the content should be there so that people can see for themselves how bad it is.

    --
    It's a bird, it's a plane!

  • ... is not a goddam binary paradigm.

    Make all that shit a utility and let the gods straighten out the fucking mess.

  • by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Monday December 04, 2017 @09:42PM (#55677281) Journal

    It's EASY to say "that offends me, ban it!"

    It's harder to say "that offends me, but I need to stand against it on its merits, not just because I have the power to ban it."

  • Net Neutrality (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Arzaboa ( 2804779 ) on Monday December 04, 2017 @09:47PM (#55677303)

    When private companies own and operate the internet, it seems like a very slippery slope to curbing free speech. Who is to say that Google or the like, won't be told by the shareholders to not host content because it offends their advertisers.

    This seems like a very real consequence of allowing private companies to be gate keepers of the information on the internet, who can choose what content to offer without impunity.

    --
    "Bad boys, bad boys, what you going to do? What you going to do when they come for you?" -- Inner Circle

  • It was his choice to make and I hope he enjoyed it. Most of us don't stick to our values 100%.

  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Monday December 04, 2017 @09:53PM (#55677325) Homepage Journal

    Because I'm not an *anything* absolutist. Things like absolutism and zero tolerance are attractive because they make decision making easy in a complex world -- too easy. Sometimes you ought to be forced to wrestle with tough calls; to choose the lesser of two evils or between alternative goods when you can't have both.

    And for that reason the way Daily Stormer was forced off the Internet disturbed me, even though I *despise* those people. It's the easy call: here's a problem that's attracting a lot of negative attention, so let's make it go away, and by "go away" we mean sweep it under the rug so someone else has to deal with it. Does anyone think that will make those people disappear? That it will stop others from becoming radicalized? I for one think it will work in their favor. Authoritarians love to view themselves as victims just as much as they love to be victimizers; those are two halves of the same coin for them. They adore being wronged, because in their very tiny minds that gives them permission to wrong others.

  • he never had to kick them off in the first place. I'm guessing he was more concerned with his bottom line if he continued hosting them. e.g. worried he'd get boycotted.

    This is not going to be a popular thing to say, well, anywhere, but the ruling party in America loves stuff like the Daily Stormer. I'd like to call them 'useful idiots' but that's making light of them. They're a mix of extremely disenfranchised people and the people who exploit them for gain. Such things have always been useful. Right now
    • Yep. The rich ultimately aren't any smarter than the poor. They're short-sighted, greedy, and stupid, just like pretty much everyone else.

      So squeeze the poor for more and more, manipulate them into giving even more after that... and then be surprised when the methods they use to do it get out of control and bite 'em in the ass, HARD.

      I used to think maybe scientists should have more say in politics, but as I get older I'm starting to think the primary advisor to any politician should be a historian.

    • by Cederic ( 9623 )

      harmless minority used as a scapegoat. Maybe the Jews. Maybe the Muslims.

      One of those is not a minority. Shit, the non-harmless members of one of those are not a minority.

    • by x0 ( 32926 )

      This is not going to be a popular thing to say, well, anywhere, but the ruling party in America loves stuff like the Daily Stormer. I'd like to call them 'useful idiots' but that's making light of them. They're a mix of extremely disenfranchised people and the people who exploit them for gain. Such things have always been useful. Right now we've got a multi-trillion dollar tax cut for the 1% that got ram-roded [sic] through our house and senate and folks like the Daily Stormer helped put the folks in charge that made that happen.

      I want to make sure I understand you properly. What you seem to be saying is that anyone who didn't vote for your party - and I'm assuming you were with Her - then you are a Nazi. And that the reason she lost are all of the people who voted for someone else?

      You want to know where the problem is, look in the mirror. If you can't honestly accept that not everyone outside of your echo chamber isn't an evil, Nazi sympathizing, racist, deplorable Bad Person, then we're fscked as a society.

      Fuck it, mod me

  • by ElizabethGreene ( 1185405 ) on Monday December 04, 2017 @11:51PM (#55677839)

    I agree with Mr. Prince, and I respect that he's willing to risk his name and company to stand behind his beliefs.

    The Anarchist's cookbook is Illegal in Australia. Possession of the book is enough to get you arrested in the UK. China's great firewall is tighter than ever. Censorship is alive and well in the modern world, and I do not see that as progress.

    What happened to: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."?
     

    • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

      What happened to: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."?

      Stepford students. [spectator.co.uk] Children being taught that they need to have a safe space and be protected. Institutions of higher learning pushing only one view point, instead of challenging multiple viewpoints. Professors pushing and punishing students [nationalpost.com] for having the "wrong view point" and so on as to not offend people. The big push for political correctness and not hurting feelings, microagressions and all the other associated bullshit. That disagreement is harassment. That facts are racist. Take your pick.

      Reme

    • Those are Enlightenment values, which are nothing but instruments of white supremacy. The Enlightenment is on the way out, to the tremendous applause of the world community. A generation from now, Rousseau will sound like a nutcase extremist and people will wonder why he was ever taken seriously.
  • by Lodragandraoidh ( 639696 ) on Monday December 04, 2017 @11:56PM (#55677863) Journal

    Words can be infectious to a population that isn't taught to be critical thinkers.

    • Words can be infectious to a population that isn't taught to be critical thinkers.

      You sir, are quite correct. If more people out there simply "follow the money," then you see that racism, prejudice, and bias are all masqueraded as class. In order for the 1% wealthy elite to maintain their status quo, they must create rifts within the 99%. The easiest way is for them to create artificial differences between race, color, and creed to keep the bottom 99% fighting amongst themselves based on aforementioned differences. In reality whatever differences that do exist are negligible. Our bodies

  • Doesn't mean that you have to give them a venue, nor does that mean you have to do business with them.
  • is to take your money elsewhere. Make Cloudflare the CDN of racists and use a different CDN that isn't friendly to Nazis. We got Cloudflare bundled with our subscription to something else and refused to use it. It's a huge bone of contention with our provider that they basically sneaked it in and we're not going to sign up with them if Cloudflare is a part of it.
  • Not only am I Jewish, but I am an ardent supporter of free speech. Freedom of speech and the press does not only apply when politically correct or even convenient. It applies to almost all circumstances, the "fire in the crowded movie theater" clause notwithstanding. If a KKK group wants to spread all kinds of falsehoods and lies, then that is their right. By banning speech that you simply do not like, you simply pour gasoline on their fire. You give them cause celeb and a point to rally on. So long as a gr

  • If this Cloudflare CEO really means what he says, then he needs to stop blocking Tor exit nodes, making us solve recaptchas (at best) and blocking us completely (at worst). Seriously, stop even noting someone is using a known Tor exit node and treat the traffic like you would anything else!

"...a most excellent barbarian ... Genghis Kahn!" -- _Bill And Ted's Excellent Adventure_

Working...