After months of criticism that GoDaddy was providing a platform for hate speech, the Web hosting company announced late Sunday that it will no longer house the Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website that promotes white supremacist and white nationalist ideas.
“Given The Daily Stormer’s latest article comes on the immediate heels of a violent act, we believe this type of article could incite additional violence, which violates our terms of service,” Race wrote in the email.
GoDaddy has previously said that the content, however “tasteless” and “ignorant,” is protected by the First Amendment. The company told the Daily Beast in July that a Daily Stormer article threatening to “track down” the family members of CNN staffers did not violate Domains by Proxy’s terms of service.
Russell Brandom (Hacker News):
Just hours after being dropped by GoDaddy, prominent white nationalist publication The Daily Stormer attempted to find a home at Google. As of press time, the site’s registration info pointed to domains.google.com, indicating the web giant had taken over services as registrar.
Shortly after the switch was noticed, Google announced plans to drop the site. “We are cancelling Daily Stormer’s registration with Google Domains for violating our terms of service,” the company said in a statement. Later in the day, Google also banned The Daily Stormer from YouTube, according to Bloomberg.
Common carrier laws do not apply to DNS or Web hosting.
GoDaddy’s terms of service state in part:
You will not use this Site or the Services in a manner (as determined by GoDaddy in its sole and absolute discretion) that:
- Is illegal, or promotes or encourages illegal activity;
- Promotes, encourages or engages in child pornography or the exploitation of children;
- Promotes, encourages or engages in terrorism, violence against people, animals, or property;
Google’s term of service don’t seem to have anything that specific, but they do include a sort of catch-all:
Google may accept or reject Registrant’s application for registration or renewal for any reason at its sole discretion[…].
In a way, this is disappointing because you can’t see where and how they would draw the line. On the other hand, this is the first I’ve heard of any companies refusing DNS service, and I don’t expect to see a slippery slope where lots of sites have to worry about this. I imagine that GoDaddy’s actual policy is that it’s all at their sole discretion, anyway. I seriously doubt they would reinstate service if the particular offending article were removed, nor do they want to have to continuously monitor the content of new articles.
Update (2017-08-15): Joseph Cox:
Early Tuesday morning, users on Twitter started sharing a link for a dark web version of the Daily Stormer. Searches for the URL of the site returned no results on Google, indicating that the site may be newly created. (Although the content of dark web sites themselves may not be cached by Google, many sites maintain collections of addresses for Tor hidden services, which are catalogued by the search engine.)
Running as a Tor hidden service means the site will be largely immune to some of the issues the Daily Stormer has faced over the past few days. It doesn’t rely on a domain registrar, such as GoDaddy or Google, so those companies can’t decide to stop providing services. And it is typically not possible to see what company is providing web servers to the site itself, making it unclear where to direct any complaints or takedown requests.
Other tech companies have also made moves against the far right: Airbnb banned users it suspected were traveling to attend the rally, while Discord, a chat service for online gamers, shut down a server and some accounts used for spreading extremist views.
Cloudflare acts as a shield between websites and the outside world, protecting them from hackers and preserving the anonymity of the sites’ owners. But Cloudflare is not a hosting service: It does not store website content on its servers. And that fact, as far as the company is concerned, exempts it from judgment over who its clients are—even if those clients are literally Nazis.
Cloudflare’s indiscriminate approach to its clients appeals not only to neo-Nazis, but also to another set of bad actors: websites that provide illegal hacking services.