Le­gal group pres­sures CloudFlare to sever ties with Ha­mas-linked sites

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY ALEX SWOYER

An Is­raeli le­gal group is put­ting pres­sure on CloudFlare to stop do­ing busi­ness with ter­ror­ist groups, ques­tion­ing why the web com­pany was quick to oust a white su­prem­a­cist web­site but still hosts ac­counts linked to Ha­mas.

CloudFlare cut ties with the Daily Stormer ear­lier this month, say­ing the web­site vi­o­lated com­pany pol­icy by claim­ing to have sup­port of CloudFlare.

Com­pany CEO Matthew Prince said at the time that he was afraid of the stan­dard he was set­ting, and promised to work through the is­sues.

Now he’s get­ting his first test as Nit­sana Dar­shan-Leit­ner, pres­i­dent of the Is­raeli le­gal cen­ter Shu­rat HaDin, says CloudFlare is still serv­ing many web­sites linked to Ha­mas and other des­ig­nated ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tions, which have amassed higher body counts than Amer­i­can neo-Nazi sym­pa­thiz­ers.

She said while CloudFlare’s de­ci­sion to cut off Daily Stormer was a choice, the com­pany has le­gal obli­ga­tions — which it might be vi­o­lat­ing — to stop pro­vid­ing as­sis­tance to U.S.-des­ig­nated ter­ror­ist groups.

“This is not a mat­ter of free speech. We are urg­ing the com­pany to com­ply with U.S. law,” she said in a let­ter to Mr. Prince. “By pro­vid­ing Ha­mas sup­port, CloudFlare aids and abets ter­ror­ist at­tacks and makes it­self li­able for the dan­ger­ous vi­o­lence be­ing per­pe­trated.”

She said her group is con­sid­er­ing tak­ing le­gal ac­tion against CloudFlare if it doesn’t sat­isfy her re­quest.

A spokesper­son for CloudFlare told The Wash­ing­ton Times the com­pany is aware of obli­ga­tions un­der U.S. law and is in com­pli­ance.

How­ever, the spokesper­son said com­pli­ance is chal­leng­ing for tech com­pa­nies be­cause the U.S. govern­ment doesn’t pro­vide a list of IP ad­dresses or web­sites that might be con­nected with sanc­tioned in­di­vid­u­als and en­ti­ties.

“Over the past few years, we have been en­gaged in on­go­ing dis­cus­sions with a num­ber of law en­force­ment and na­tional se­cu­rity or­ga­ni­za­tions to de­ter­mine the best way for­ward in this area and con­tinue to re­view and up­date our com­pli­ance ef­forts,” the spokesper­son said.

In­ter­net free­dom ad­vo­cates said CloudFlare’s move raised big ques­tions about the com­pany’s claims to want to pre­serve an open web.

“It’s dif­fi­cult to get up­set about Nazi speech be­ing banned, but the long term prece­dent set by CloudFlare’s ca­pit­u­la­tion to pres­sures for cen­sor­ship are much more of a con­cern,” said Jeremy Mal­colm, senior global pol­icy an­a­lyst at the Elec­tronic Fron­tier Foun­da­tion.

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