Mozilla launches a VPN, brings back the Firefox Test Pilot program – gpgmail


Mozilla today announced that it is bringing back the Firefox Test Pilot program to allow users to try out new features before they are ready for mainstream usage. While the name is familiar, though, the overall goals of the new program are a bit different from the last iteration and the focus is less on crazy experiments and more on beta testing products that are almost ready for public consumption.

The first new project in the Test Pilot program is the beta of the Firefox Private Network VPN service, which is now available in the U.S. for Firefox desktop users.

The Firefox Test Pilot program has gone through its share of iterations. First launched three years ago, it quickly became the incubation ground for a number of new features. In January of this year, though, the organization decided to shut it down.

Why bring it back now? Clearly, Mozilla was getting valuable feedback from the Test Pilot users, who were surely among the most dedicated Firefox fans.

The organization says that it wanted to take time to evolve the program and this new version is indeed somewhat different. “The difference with the newly relaunched Test Pilot program is that these products and services may be outside the Firefox browser, and we will be far more polished, and just one step shy of general public release,” the team explains.

The new Test Pilot program then is less about giving users the opportunity to test some of the Firefox team’s more eccentric ideas and more like a traditional public beta test program.

The new VPN project, the team writes, is a good example of this approach. It’s a Test Pilot project because the team wants to fine-tune it a bit more before its public release.

The Firefox Private Network isn’t so much about trying to circumvent geo-restrictions and instead mostly focuses on giving users access to a private network when they are on public WiFi and helping them hide their locations from website and ad trackers (and indeed, a lot of the new Test Pilot projects will focus on privacy). That’s probably why Mozilla doesn’t refer to it as a VPN either, though that’s obviously what it is.

“One of the key learnings from recent events is that there is growing demand for privacy features,” Mozilla’s Marissa Wood writes today. “The Firefox Private Network is an extension which provides a secure, encrypted path to the web to protect your connection and your personal information anywhere and everywhere you use your Firefox browser.”

Mozilla is partnering with Cloudflare for this launch and Cloudflare is providing the proxy server for it. It’s available as a Firefox extension, but only in the U.S. and fore Firefox desktop users. For now, it’s available for free, though there have been some hints that Mozilla will at some point start charging for the service. Since it’s not a full VPN service, it remains to be seen how much the organization will be able to charge for it. Last year, Mozilla partnered with ProtonVPN and offered that service for $10 per month.

It’s worth noting that Opera, too, includes a free built-in VPN service, which includes the ability to set your location to either the Americas, Europe or Asia.

If you want to give the new service a try, you only need a Firefox account and sign up here.

 

 


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13 ways to screw over your internet provider – gpgmail


Internet providers are real bastards: they have captive audiences whom they squeeze for every last penny while they fight against regulation like net neutrality and donate immense amounts of money to keep on lawmakers’ good sides. So why not turn the tables? Here are 13 ways to make sure your ISP has a hard time taking advantage of you (and may even put it on the defensive).

Disclosure: Verizon, an internet provider guilty of all these infractions, owns gpgmail, and I don’t care.

1. Buy a modem and router instead of renting

The practice of renting a device to users rather than selling it or providing it as part of the service is one of the telecommunications industry’s oldest and worst. People pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars over years for equipment worth $40 or $50. ISPs do this with various items, but the most common item is probably the modem.

This is the gadget that connects to the cable coming out of your wall, and then connects in turn (or may also function as) your wireless and wired router. ISPs often provide this equipment at the time of install, and then charge you $5 to $10 per month forever. What they don’t tell you is you can probably buy the exact same item for somewhere between $30 and $100.

The exact model you need will depend on your service, but it will be listed somewhere, and they should tell you what they’d provide if you ask. Look online, buy a new or lightly used one, and it will have paid for itself before the year is out. Not only that, but you can do stuff like upgrade or change the software on it all you want, because it’s yours. Bonus: The ISP is limited in what it can do to the router (like letting other people connect — yes, it’s a thing).

2. Avoid service calls, or if you can’t, insist they’re free

I had an issue with my Comcast internet a while back that took them several visits from a service tech to resolve. It wasn’t an issue on my end, which was why I was surprised to find they’d charged me $30 or so every time the person came.

If your ISP wants to send someone out, ask whether it’s free, and if it isn’t, tell them to make it free or ask if you can do it yourself (sometimes it’s for really simple stuff like swapping a cable). If they charge you for a visit, call them and ask them to take it off your bill. Say you weren’t informed and you’ll inform the Better Business Bureau about it, or take your business elsewhere, or something. They’ll fold.

When someone does come…

3. Get deals from the installer

If you do end up having someone come out, talk to them to see whether there are any off the record deals they can offer you. I don’t mean anything shady like splitting cables with the neighbor, just offers they know about that aren’t publicized because they’re too good to advertise.

A lot of these service techs are semi-independent contractors paid by the call, and their pay has nothing to do with which service you have or choose. They have no reason to upsell you and every reason to make you happy and get a good review. Sometimes that means giving you the special desperation rates ISPs withhold until you say you’re going to leave.

And as long as you’re asking…

4. Complain, complain, complain

This sounds bad, but it’s just a consequence of how these companies work: The squeaky wheels get the grease. There’s plenty of grease to go around, so get squeaking.

Usually this means calling up and doing one of several things. You can complain that service has been bad — outages and such — and ask that they compensate you for that. You can say that a competing ISP started offering service at your location and it costs $20 less, so can they match that. Or you can say your friend just got a promotional rate and you’d like to take advantage of it… otherwise you’ll leave to that phantom competitor. (After all, we know there’s often little or no real competition.)

What ISPs, and, more importantly, what their customer service representatives care about is keeping you on as a customer. They can always raise rates or upsell you later, but having you as a subscriber is the important thing.

Note that some reps are more game than others. Some will give you the runaround, while others will bend over backwards to help you out. Feel free to call a few times and do a bit of window shopping. (By the way, if you get someone nice, give them a good review if you get the chance, usually right after the call or chat. It helps them out a lot.) Obviously you can’t call every week with new demands, so wait until you think you can actually save some money.

Which reminds me…

5. Choose your service level wisely

ISPs offer a ton of choices, and make it confusing on purpose so you end up picking an expensive one just to be sure you have what you need. The truth is most people can probably do pretty much everything they need on the lowest tier they offer.

A 1080p Netflix stream will work fine on a 25 Mbps connection, which is what I have. I also work entirely online, stream high-def videos at a dozen sites all day, play games, download movies and do lots of other stuff, sometimes all at the same time. I think I pay $45 a month. But rates like mine might not be advertised prominently or at all. I only found out when I literally asked what the cheapest possible option was.

That said, if you have three kids who like to watch videos simultaneously, or you have a 4K streaming setup that you use a lot, you’ll want to bump that up a bit. But you’d be surprised how seldom the speed limit actually comes into play.

To be clear, it’s still important that higher tiers are available, and that internet providers upgrade their infrastructure, because competition and reliability need to go up and prices need to come down. The full promise of broadband should be accessible to everyone for a reasonable fee, and that’s still not the case.

6. Stream everything because broadcast TV is a joke

Cord-cutting is fun. Broadcast TV is annoying, and getting around ads and air times using a DVR is very 2005. Most shows are available on streaming services of some kind or another, and while those services are multiplying, you could probably join all of them for well under what you’re paying for the 150 cable channels you never watch.

Unless you really need to watch certain games or news shows as they’re broadcast, you can get by streaming everything. This has the side effect of starving networks of viewers and accelerating the demise of these 20th-century relics. Good ones will survive as producers and distributors of quality programming, and you can support them individually on their own merits. It’s a weird transitional time for TV, but we need to drop-kick them into the future so they’ll stop charging us for a media structure established 50 years ago.

Something isn’t available on a streaming service? 100 percent chance it’s because of some dumb exclusivity deal or licensing SNAFU. Go pirate it for now, then happily pay for it as soon as it’s made available. This method is simple for you and instructive for media companies. (They always see piracy rates drop when they make things easy to find and purchase.)

This also lets you avoid certain fees ISPs love tacking onto your bill. I had a “broadcast TV fee” on my bill despite not having any kind of broadcast service, and I managed to get it taken off and retroactively paid back.

On that note…

7. Watch your bill like a hawk

Telecoms just love putting things on your bill with no warning. It’s amazing how much a bill can swell from the quoted amount once they’ve added all the little fees, taxes and service charges. What are they, anyway? Why not call and ask?

You might find out, as I did, that your ISP had “mistakenly” been charging you for something — like equipment — that you never had nor asked for. Amazing how these lucrative little fees tend to fall through the cracks!

Small charges often increase and new ones get added as well, so download your bill when you get it and keep it somewhere (or just keep the paper copies). These are really handy to have when you’re on the phone with a rep. “Why wasn’t I informed my bill would increase this month by $50?” “Why is this fee more now than it was in July?” “Why do I pay a broadcast fee if I don’t pay for TV?” These are the types of questions that get you discounts.

Staying on top of these fees also means you’ll be more aware when there are things like mass refunds or class action lawsuits about them. Usually these have to be opted into — your ISP isn’t going to call you, apologize and send a check.

As long as you’re looking closely at your bill…

8. Go to your account and opt out of everything

When you sign up for broadband service, you’re going to get opted into a whole heap of things. They don’t tell you about these, like the ads they can inject, the way they’re selling this or that data or that your router might be used as a public Wi-Fi hotspot.

You’ll only find this out if you go to your account page at your ISP’s website and look at everything. Beyond the usual settings like your address and choice of whether to receive a paper bill, you’ll probably find a few categories like “privacy” and “communications preferences.”

Click through all of these and look for any options to opt out of stuff. You may find that your ISP has reserved the right to let partners email you, use your data in ways you wouldn’t expect and so on. It only takes a few minutes to get out of all this, and it deprives the ISP of a source of income while also providing a data point that subscribers don’t like these practices.

9. Share your passwords

Your friend’s internet provider gets him streaming services A, B and C, while yours gives you X, Y and Z. Again, this is not about creators struggling to get their content online, but rather all about big media and internet corporations striking deals that make them money and harm consumers.

Share your (unique, not reused!) passwords widely and with a clean conscience. No company objects when you invite your friends over to watch “Fleabag” at your house. This just saves everyone a drive!

10. Encrypt everything and block trackers

One of the internet companies’ many dirty little deals is collecting and selling information on their customers’ watching and browsing habits. Encrypting your internet traffic puts the kibosh on this creepy practice — as well as being good security.

This isn’t really something you can do too much to accomplish, since over the last few years encryption has become the rule rather than the exception, even at sites where you don’t log in or buy anything. If you want to be sure, download a browser plug-in like HTTPS everywhere, which opts you into a secure connection anywhere it’s available. You can tell it’s secure because the URL says “https://” instead of “http://” — and most browsers have other indicators or warnings as well.

You should also use an ad blocker, not necessarily to block ads that keep outlets like gpgmail alive (please), but to block trackers seeded across the web by companies that use sophisticated techniques to record everything you do. ISPs are among these and/or do business with them, so everything you can do to hinder them is a little mud in their eye.

Incidentally there are lots of ways you can protect your privacy from those who would invade it — we’ve got a pretty thorough guide here.

11. Use a different DNS

Bryce Durbin / gpgmail

On a similar note, most ISPs will usually be set up by default with their own “Domain Name Service,” which is the thing that your browser pings to convert a text web URL (like “Gpgmail.com”) to its numerical IP address.

There are lots of these to choose from, and they all work, but if you use your ISP’s, it makes it much easier for them to track your internet activity. They also can block certain websites by refusing to provide the IP for content they don’t like.

gpgmail doesn’t officially endorse one, but lots of companies offer free, fast DNS that’s easy to switch to. Here’s a good list; there are big ones (Google, Cloudflare), “open” ones (OpenDNS, OpenNIC) and others with some niche features. All you need to do is slot those two numbers into your internet configuration, following the instructions they provide. You can change it back at any time.

Setting up a VPN is another option for very privacy-conscious individuals, but it can be complicated. And speaking of complicated…

12. Run a home server

This is a bit advanced, but it’s definitely something ISPs hate. Setting up your home computer or a dedicated device to host a website, script or service seems like a natural use of an always-on internet connection, but just about everyone in the world would rather you sign up for their service, hosted on their hardware and their connection.

Well, you don’t have to! You can do it on your own. Of course, you’ll have to learn how to run and install a probably Unix-based server, handle registry stuff, install various packages and keep up to date so you don’t get owned by some worm or bot… but you’ll have defied the will of the ISP. That’s the important thing.

13. Talk to your local government

ISPs hate all the things above, but what they hate the most by far is regulation. And you, as a valued citizen of your state and municipality, are in a position to demand it. Senators, representatives, governors, mayors, city councils and everyone else actually love to hear from their constituency, not because they desire conversation but because they can use it to justify policy.

During the net neutrality fight, a constant refrain I heard from government officials was how much they’d heard from voters about the issue and how unanimous it was (in support, naturally). A call or email from you won’t sway national politics, but a few thousand calls or emails from people in your city just might sway a local law or election. These things add up, and they do matter. State net neutrality policies are now the subject of national attention, and local privacy laws like those in Illinois are the bane of many a shady company.

Tell your local government about your experience with ISPs — outages, fees, sneaky practices or even good stuff — and they’ll file it away for when that data is needed, such as renegotiating the contracts national companies sign with those governments in order to operate in their territories.

Internet providers only do what they do because they are permitted to, and even then they often step outside the bounds of what’s acceptable — which is why rules like net neutrality are needed. But first people have to speak out.


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Cloudflare is going public – gpgmail


The Daily Crunch is gpgmail’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.

1. Cloudflare files for initial public offering

The web infrastructure company has recently found itself at the center of political debates around some of its customers, including social media networks like 8chan and racist media companies like the Daily Stormer. In fact, the company went so far as to cite 8chan as a risk factor in its public offering documents.

Even so, the company will likely be worth billions when it starts trading on the market. And we have to point out that Cloudflare actually made its debut on gpgmail’s Battlefield stage back in 2010.

2. Apple is suing Corellium

Corellium allows customers to create and interact with virtual iOS devices — a software iPhone, for example, running actual iOS firmware, all within the browser. Apple says this is copyright infringement.

3. YouTube shuts down music companies’ use of manual copyright claims to steal creator revenue

Going forward, copyright owners will no longer be able to monetize creator videos with very short or unintentional uses of music via YouTube’s “Manual Claiming” tool. Instead, they can choose to prevent the other party from monetizing the video, or they can block the content.

4. Twitter leads $100M round in top Indian regional social media platform ShareChat

ShareChat serves 60 million users each month in 15 regional languages — but not English, which the company says is a deliberate choice.

5. Apple, Samsung continue growth as North American wearables market hits $2B

The numbers aren’t exactly earth-shattering, but they show significant growth for a category that felt almost dead in the water a year or two back.

6. Local governments are forcing the scooter industry to grow up fast

For scooter startups, city regulations can make or break their businesses across nearly every aspect of operations, especially in two key areas: ridership growth and the ability to attract investor dollars. (Extra Crunch membership required.)

7. Microsoft Azure CTO Mark Russinovich will join us for TC Sessions: Enterprise on September 5

In a fireside chat, we’ll ask Russinovich about what Microsoft is doing to reduce the complexity of moving legacy systems to the cloud, and how enterprises can maximize their current cloud investments.


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Cloudflare has a third co-founder, Lee Holloway, who’s credited with making the company what is today – gpgmail


Not every co-founder is acknowledged at the companies that they help to launch. Sometimes, they quit or they’re elbowed out. Often, they’re conveniently written out of the company’s history.

In the case of Cloudflare, a third co-founder who began the company with CEO Matthew Prince and COO Michelle Zatlyn is little known outside the company for a very different reason. As Cloudflare states in an S-1 IPO filing that it made public today, “Tragically, Lee stepped down from Cloudflare in 2015, suffering the debilitating effects of Frontotemporal Dementia, a rare neurological disease.”

Frontotemporal dementia impacts between 50,000 and 60,000 Americans, according to a rough estimate cited by the Alzheimer’s Association, and it tends to impact younger people, beginning at age 45.

Though the cause isn’t known, a person’s risk for developing frontotemporal dementia — wherein the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain shrink — is higher if there’s a family history of dementia, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Cloudflare did not respond today to questions about Holloway, but Prince and Zatlyn, in a section of the filing addressed to potential shareholders, credit Holloway as the “genius who architected our platform and recruited and led our early technical team.” In fact, they write, when picking a code name for the company’s IPO, they chose “Project Holloway” to honor his contribution, because the “technical decisions Lee made, and the engineering team he built, are fundamental to the business we have become.”

Holloway’s beneficiaries will be rewarded for that work. According to the S-1, trusts affiliated with him own 18% of the company’s Series A shares (or common shares) and 3.2% of the company’s total outstanding shares. Prince meanwhile owns 20.2% of the company’s class B shares and 16.6% of all outstanding shares, and Zatlyn has 6.8% of the company’s class B shares and 5.6% of the overall shares outstanding.

If Cloudflare goes public at the $3.2 billion valuation it was last assigned by its private investors, Holloway’s family and other trust recipients could see upwards of $100 million.

That’s none too shabby for a computer geek who attended Monte Vista High School in Danville, Calif., before working as an engineer at the bubble-era home improvement site HomeWarehouse.com, whose assets were sold in 2000 to Walmart.com. Though an apparent fire sale, then-CEO Jeanne Jackson told the San Francisco Chronicle that Walmart was “very impressed with the commerce platform developed by the Homewarehouse.com team.”

Either way, in the aftermath of the sale, Holloway headed to UC Santa Cruz, where he studied computer science and, in a meeting that would change his life, was introduced through a professor to Prince, with whom he began building an anti-spam startup called Unspam Technologies. Holloway was its chief software architect; Prince continues to serve as chairman. The two also co-created Project Honey Pot, an open-source community that still tracks online fraud and abuse.

Zatlyn would enter the picture soon after. According to Cloudflare itself, in 2009, Prince had taken a sabbatical from work to get his MBA from Harvard Business School. It was when he began telling Zatlyn, a classmate, about Project Honey Pot and its community of users that she helped him recognize a related opportunity in not just tracking internet threats but also stopping them. While they worked on the business plan as part of their studies, Holloway built the first working prototype.

It worked well enough that by 2010 they were pitching investors at a gpgmail Disrupt as one of the event’s “battlefield” participants.

Holloway wasn’t onstage for that demonstration. He might have preferred to operate in the background given the nature of his work.

Indeed, in the first of just three tweets he has ever published, he wrote simply, “Pondering the nature of web exploits.”

Pictured above: Cloudflare co-founders Zatlyn, Holloway and Prince.


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Cloudflare says cutting off customers like 8chan is an IPO ‘risk factor’ – gpgmail


Networking and web security giant Cloudflare says the recent 8chan controversy may be an ongoing “risk factor” for its business on the back of its upcoming initial public offering.

The San Francisco-based company and former Battlefield finalist, which filed its IPO paperwork with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday, earlier this month took the rare step of pulling the plug on one of its customers, 8chan, an anonymous message board linked to recent domestic terrorist attacks in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, which killed 31 people. The site is also linked to the shootings in New Zealand, which killed 50 people.

8chan became the second customer to have its service cut off by Cloudflare in the aftermath of the attacks. The first and other time Cloudflare booted one of its customers was neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer in 2017, after it claimed the networking giant was secretly supportive of the website.

Cloudflare, which provides web security and denial-of-service protection for websites, recognizes those customer cut-offs as a risk factor for investors buying shares in the company’s common stock.

“Activities of our paying and free customers or the content of their websites and other Internet properties could cause us to experience significant adverse political, business, and reputational consequences with customers, employees, suppliers, government entities, and other third parties,” the filing said. “Even if we comply with legal obligations to remove or disable customer content, we may maintain relationships with customers that others find hostile, offensive, or inappropriate.”

Cloudflare had long taken a stance of not policing who it provides service to, citing freedom of speech. In a 2015 interview with ZDNet, chief executive Matthew Prince said he didn’t ever want to be in a position where he was making “moral judgments on what’s good and bad,” and would instead defer to the courts.

“If a final court order comes down and says we can’t do something… governments have tanks and guns,” he said.

But since Prince changed his stance on both The Daily Stormer and 8chan, the company recognized it “experienced significant negative publicity” in the aftermath.

“We are aware of some potential customers that have indicated their decision to not subscribe to our products was impacted, at least in part, by the actions of certain of our paying and free customers,” said the filing. “We may also experience other adverse political, business and reputational consequences with prospective and current customers, employees, suppliers, and others related to the activities of our paying and free customers, especially if such hostile, offensive, or inappropriate use is high profile.”

Cloudflare has also come under fire in recent months for allegedly supplying web protection services to sites that promote and support terrorism, including al-Shabaab and the Taliban, both of which are covered under U.S. Treasury sanctions.

In response, the company said it tries “to be neutral,” but wouldn’t comment specifically on the matter.


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Cloudflare files for initial public offering – gpgmail


After much speculation and no small amount of controversy, Cloudflare, one of the companies that ensures that websites run smoothly on the internet, has filed for its initial public offering.

The company, which made its debut on gpgmail’s Battlefield stage back in 2010, has put a placeholder value of the offering at $100 million, but it will likely be worth billions when it finally trades on the market.

Cloudflare is one of a clutch of businesses whose job it is to make web sites run better, faster and with little to no downtime.

Recently the company has been at the center of political debates around some of the customers and company it keeps, including social media networks like 8chan and racist media companies like the Daily Stormer.

Indeed, the company went so far as to cite 8chan as a risk factor in its public offering documents.

As far as money goes, Cloudflare is — like other early-stage technology companies — losing money. But it’s not losing that much money, and its growth is impressive.

As the company notes in its filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission:

We have experienced significant growth, with our revenue increasing from $84.8 million in 2016 to $134.9 million in 2017 and to $192.7 million in 2018, increases of 59% and 43%, respectively. As we continue to invest in our business, we have incurred net losses of $17.3 million, $10.7 million, and $87.2 million for 2016, 2017, and 2018, respectively. For the six months ended June 30, 2018 and 2019, our revenue increased from $87.1 million to $129.2 million, an increase of 48%, and we incurred net losses of $32.5 million and $36.8 million, respectively.

Cloudflare sits at the intersection of government policy and private company operations and its potential risk factors include a discussion about what that could mean for its business.

The company isn’t the first network infrastructure service provider to hit the market. That distinction belongs to Fastly, whose shares likely have not performed as well as investors would have liked.

Cloudflare has raised roughly $332 million to date from investors, including Franklin Templeton Investments, Fidelity, Union Square Ventures, New Enterprise Associates, Pelion Venture Partners and Venrock. Business Insider reported that the company’s last investment gave Cloudflare a valuation of $3.2 billion.

The company will trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “NET.” Underwriters on the company’s public offering include Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan, Jefferies, Wells Fargo Securities and RBC Capital Markets.


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Cloudflare will stop service to 8chan, which CEO Matthew Prince describes as a “cesspool of hate” – gpgmail


Website infrastructure and security services provider Cloudflare will stop providing service to 8chan, wrote Matthew Prince in a blog post, describing the site as a “cesspool of hate.” Service will be terminated as of midnight Pacific Time.

“The rationale is simple: they have proven themselves to be lawless and that lawlessness has caused multiple tragic deaths,” wrote Prince. “Even if 8chan may not have violated the letter of the law in refusing to moderate their hate-filled community, they have created an environment that revels in violating its spirit.”

The decision was made after the suspect in this weekend’s mass shooting at El Paso posted a lengthy racist and anti-immigration “manifesto” to 8chan almost immediately before the attack, which killed at least 20 people. Federal authorities are treating the shooting as an act of domestic terrorism and the Justice Department is also considering bringing federal hate crime and firearm charges, which both potentially carry the death penalty, against the shooter.

8chan was also used by the perpetrator in March’s terrorist attacks on two Christchurch, New Zealand mosques, as well as the suspect in the April shooting at a synagogue in Poway, California.

“The El Paso shooter specifically referenced the Christchurch incident and appears to have been inspired by the largely unmoderated discussions on 8chan which glorified the previous massacre,” wrote Prince. “In a separate tragedy, the suspected killer in the Poway, California synagogue shooting also posted a hate-filled ‘open letter’ on 8chan. 8chan has repeatedly proven itself to be a cesspool of hate.”

Before Cloudflare announced its decision to terminate service to 8chan, Prince spoke to reporters from the Guardian and the New York Times, telling the Guardian that he wanted to “kick 8chan off our network,” but also (in the later interview with the New York Times), expressing hesitation because terminating service may make it harder for law enforcement officials to access information on the site.

In his blog post, Prince explained Cloudflare’s ultimate decision to cut service, writing that more than 19 million Internet properties use Cloudflare’s services and the company “[did] not take this decision lightly.”

“We reluctantly tolerate content that we find reprehensible, but we draw the line at platforms that have demonstrated they directly inspire tragic events and are lawless by design. 8chan has crossed that line,” he wrote.” It will therefore no longer be allowed to use our services.”

This is not the first time Cloudflare has cut off service to a site for enabling the spread of racism and violence. Cloudflare previously terminated service to white supremacist site Daily Stormer in August 2017, but noted that the site went back online after switching to a Cloudflare competitor. “Today, the Daily Stormer is still available and still disgusting. They have bragged that they have more readers than ever. They are no longer Cloudflare’s problem, but they remain the Internet’s problem,” Prince wrote.

Prince says he sees the situation with 8chan playing out in a similar way. Since terminating service to the Daily Stormer, Prince says Cloudflare has worked with law enforcement and civil society organizations, resulting in the company “cooperating around monitoring potential hate sites on our network and notifying law enforcement when there was content that contained a legal process to share information when we can hopefully prevent horrific acts of violence.”

But Prince added that the company “continue[s] to feel incredibly uncomfortable about playing the role of content arbiter and do not plan to exercise it often,” adding that this is not “due to some conception of the United States’ First Amendment,” since Cloudflare is a private company (and most of its customers, and more than half of its revenue, are outside the United States).

Instead, Cloudflare “will continue to engage with lawmakers around the world as they set the boundaries of what is acceptable in those countries through due process of law. And we will comply with those boundaries when and where they are set.”

Cloudflare’s decision may increase scrutiny on Amazon, since the 8chan’s operator Jim Watkins sells audiobooks on Amazon.com and Audible, creating what the Daily Beast refers to as “his financial lifeline to the outside world.”




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