Cloudflare CEO opens up far-right website to vigilante DDoS attacks

17 Aug 2017

The door to DDoS attacks has been left open to far-right website The Daily Stormer by Cloudflare. Image: winnond/Shutterstock

The CEO of Cloudflare has used his position to go against company policy and allow DDoS attacks against far-right website The Daily Stormer.

Matthew Prince, CEO of website security provider Cloudflare, has decided to wage a personal war against the far-right website The Daily Stormer by removing any DDoS (distributed denial of service) protection for it.

The Daily Stormer has drawn considerable controversy over the past few days following events in Charlottesville, Virginia, which led to the death of counter-protester Heather Heyer.

According to Gizmodo, Prince said the decision to make the domain vulnerable to online vigilante mobs was strictly his choice and that he wanted to do it because the operators of the site were “assholes”.

“This was my decision. This is not Cloudflare’s general policy now, going forward,” Prince said. “I think we have to have a conversation over what part of the infrastructure stack is right to police content.”

Reaching a tipping point

In an email to staff, Prince said that he doesn’t think the heads of internet companies should have the power to control the content that it regulates, but he felt this was an exception.

“I realised there was no way we were going to have that conversation with people calling us Nazis,” he said.

“The Daily Stormer site was bragging on their bulletin boards about how Cloudflare was one of them and that is the opposite of everything we believe. That was the tipping point for me.”

It comes not long after the far-right website announced it was to move over to the relative safety of the ‘dark web’ after its domain hoster GoDaddy ended its association with it for publishing slurs about Heyer.

Expanding further in a blog posted to Cloudflare’s website, Prince specified vigilante hackers as leading potential DDoS attacks against The Daily Stormer.

“The size and scale of the attacks that can now easily be launched online make it such that if you don’t have a network like Cloudflare in front of your content, and you upset anyone, you will be knocked offline,” he wrote.

“But having the mechanism of content control be vigilante hackers launching DDoS attacks subverts any rational concept of justice.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic