Cloudflare’s CEO Matthew Prince made the unilateral decision to suspend The Daily Stormer’s web hosting because he was “in a bad mood.’ This is a violation of more than Net Neutrality, this is basic contract law.
Imagine a world where your livelihood was subject to the hormonal whim of one person. In common parlance we’d call that a ‘dictatorship’ or ‘fascism.’ You walk in one day and your boss says, “You’re fired.’
“Because I needed to lash out and feel important. Clean out your desk. 10 minutes.”
Don’t think that can happen in progressive America, where labor laws abound to prevent this kind of thing?
Well, that’s exactly what happened when Cloudflare CEO woke up the other day and decided to violate the contract of the people who publish the Website “The Daily Stormer” the other day.
Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince decided to suspend web hosting for the the Daily Stormer because “I woke up in a bad mood and decided someone shouldn’t be allowed on the internet.”
Prince added, “My rationale for making this decision was simple: the people behind the Daily Stormer are assholes and I’d had enough.”
The Cloudflare executive even admitted that his decision was “dangerous,” violating the core principle of free speech on the internet.
In an email to his employees, Prince wanted to reassure his employees that he did not set a “precedent.” He also admitted, “The right answer is for us to be consistently content neutral.” [emphasis mine]
First things first, Cloudflare’s board should fire Prince immediately. He just opened up the company to a myriad of lawsuits. And anyone who runs their company on their hormonal response to political circumstances should not be.
Second, this does set a precedent. It sets the precedent that Cloudflare does not honor its contracts nor is it committed to open access to the internet. If Prince has not reinstated The Daily Stormer’s access after publicly admitting his capriciousness, then he is committed to being a discriminatory power-monger.
Now in my worldview that’s fine with me. It’s his company and I argue that he is free to run that company as he sees fit. If Cloudflare’s Terms of Service allow for them to terminate a contract for any reason, then the guys at The Daily Stormer put their head in the noose while waiting for the hangman to pull the lever.
That said, however, in the face of Net Neutrality, which Cloudflare and Prince both nominally support, their actions are likely illegal. And using access to the court system as a means to erect barriers to trade, which Cloudflare benefits from thanks to public investment in the internet backbones themselves, is not only reprehensible, its theft.
Its theft for the people who use said public infrastructure to access information at The Daily Stormer. It doesn’t matter if that information is ‘hate speech’ or beyond the pale of polite and decent society. That information has value to those folks, there is a demand for that information and those people paid for part of the highways that allow them to access that information.
This argument is analogous, but not completely, to the Left’s stance that a bakery should be forced to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. In The Daily Stormer’s case Cloudflare violated their contract after taking their money. In the latter, however, the bakery refused the contract in the first place and their refusal doesn’t preclude the couple from seeking the services of another bakery.
We’re reaching that point where the political left, operating irrationally in a mass hysteria bubble because they cannot accept that a majority of Americans disagree with them so much that they elected Donald Trump and not the most qualified person in history to be president.
Matthew Prince woke up, had a temper tantrum, and pissed on the Constitution and more importantly, the very principles that he supposedly holds dear while putting his company in danger of 1) being sued for damages and 2) for permanently losing business.
Servers are cheap folks. IT professionals are everywhere. There are billions of dollars looking for an opportunity to take people like Matthew Prince down.