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Jacob Sommer, a lawyer with extensive experience in internet privacy and security issues, said there is no legal requirement for a company like Cloudflare to regulate the sites on their service, though many internet service providers choose to.
It comes down to a company’s sense of corporate responsibility, he said.
Cloudflare says that some 10 percent of web requests flow through its network, and the company’s mainstream clients range from the FBI to the dating site OKCupid.
“There is no imminent danger it creates and no provider has an affirmative obligation to monitor and make determinations about the theoretically harmful nature of speech a site may contain.” Cloudflare also has an added appeal to sites such as The Daily Stormer.
Company officials have said Cloudflare’s core belief is in the free and open nature of the internet.
But given its outsize role in protecting a range of websites, Cloudflare has found itself the target of critics.
“Although hate speech is offensive and hurtful, the First Amendment usually protects such expression,” Johnson said.
“However, there is a growing trend to use the Internet to intimidate and harass individuals on the basis of their race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, disability, or national origin.” A look at Cloudflare’s policies and operations sheds some light on how sites promoting incendiary speech and even violent behavior can exist and even thrive.
Since its launch in 2013, the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer has quickly become the go-to spot for racists on the internet.