The Arizona Republic

Warning issued following silencing of Stormer

Digital rights group sees dangerous step for free speech

- Rachel Sandler

Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights group, broke with major tech companies late Thursday, saying that blocking white supremacis­t, neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer from staying online sets a dangerous precedent for free speech.

“Protecting free speech is not something we do because we agree with all of the speech that gets protected,” a post on its website reads. “We do it because we believe that no one — not the government and not private commercial enterprise­s — should decide who gets to speak and who doesn’t.”

One by one, tech companies providing online services to The Daily Stormer dropped the site this week after a white nationalis­t protest in Charlottes­ville, Va. last weekend turned deadly. GoDaddy and Google revoked the site’s domain registrati­on. Zoho, Sendgrid and Discord, each providing email or chat services to the site, were next.

Cloudflare, a security firm that had continued to do business with the site, cut ties midweek. The last straw: Daily Stormer’s owners called Cloudflare “one of us,” Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince said. “The real risk is in choosing winners and losers and which of their content survives,” he told USA TODAY.

While the EFF acknowledg­es that private companies are within their rights to remove anyone from their platforms, the non-profit emphasized that what GoDaddy, Google and Cloudflare did could have farreachin­g consequenc­es.

“We would be making a mistake if we assumed that these censorship decisions would never turn against causes we love,” the post reads. “We must also recognize that any tactic used to silence neo-Nazis will soon be used against others.”

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