Is CloudFlare too big to (be allowed to) censor?
Recently CloudFlare (CF) kicked a paying customer off their platform. I expect they wold have pro-rata refunded the customer’s payment, however the internet is going wild about censorship of free speech among other things.
An interesting claim by some is that CF shouldn’t be allowed to censor the customer (apparently a neo-nazi site called Daily Stormer (DS)). Quite apart from whatever the site’s content was (sounds like a place for some to scream hate at others), those commenters raised an interesting point regarding censorship. There were also many other rather uninformed voices claiming CF “took DS off the internet”, when in reality the services CF offers at worst only withdrew protection for the site from being attacked. I suppose they could have incidentally taken the site down – if the site’s owner couldn’t/didn’t move the DNS hosting for the site elsewhere.
Like many others I expect I’d find the content of the site eye rollingly objectionable, however while I don’t believe Australia has free speech provisions enshrined in law like the USA does, I do think that the site deserves to live – if only to remind people that the worst of humanity does still and will likely always exist. Whether CF censored them by removing them from their platform though is an interesting issue. If CF were smaller it would make less of a difference if they withdrew their support of a customer which apparently flouted their Terms of Service (ToS), however the fact that CF is large means that the net effect of them withdrawing their support (and by support I simply mean service) potentially does block a lot of visitors from the DS site – not because they “took the site down” – rather simply because they opened the door for others who abhor DS to take their own action.
So while in this instance I think CF is clear of any imagined censorship bias, the question remains – is it just a “risk” of success that you may no be able to do what you want in the best interests of your company?