1. TechSpot is dedicated to computer enthusiasts and power users. Ask a question and give support. Join the community here.
    TechSpot is dedicated to computer enthusiasts and power users.
    Ask a question and give support.
    Join the community here, it only takes a minute.
    Dismiss Notice

Web giant Cloudflare reportedly providing service to seven terrorist organizations

By mongeese · 6 replies
Dec 15, 2018
Post New Reply
  1. An investigation by the HuffPost has found that Cloudflare provides online protection to seven terrorist organisations. These include the Taliban, al-Shabab, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Al Quds Brigades, the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and Hamas. While various experts from the US and the international Counter Extremism Project have analyzed the websites and are very certain in their findings, Cloudflare refuses to admit if they are protecting the websites, citing “privacy concerns.”

    If they are providing services to these websites, it would be illegal. All these organizations are included on government terrorist lists, and that means that providing “material support” to them, including communications technology, is prohibited. 18 U.S.C. §2339B defines material support as any product or service, excluding medicine or religious materials.

    “If and when you know or reasonably should know, then you’re in legal jeopardy if you continue to provide service.”

    “This is not a content-based issue,” Benjamin Wittes, the editor in chief of Lawfare and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, told HuffPost. “[Cloudflare] can be as pure-free-speech people as they want — they have an arguable position that it’s not their job to decide what speech is worthy and what speech is not — but there is a law, a criminal statute, that says that you are not allowed to give services to designated foreign terrorist organizations. Full stop.”

    Even Cloudflare agrees that providing service to these terrorist organizations is illegal. Doug Kramer, Cloudflare’s general counsel, told Cnet that it has a process for checking if a potential customer is on a terrorist list and that it will deny service if they are.

    “Our policy is that if we receive new information that raises a flag or a concern about a potentially sanctioned party, then we’ll follow up to figure out whether or not that’s something that we need to take action on,” Cloudflare says. “Part of the challenge is really to determine which of those are legitimate inquiries and which of those are trying to manipulate the complaint process to take down people with whom they disagree.”

    For some reason, however, their practice of providing services to terrorists has been continuing. The first reports of terrorists using their services surfaced in 2012 when Reuters confronted them with two websites which had affiliations with Hamas and al-Quds Brigades. Cloudflare’s CEO, Mathew Prince, simply said: “we are not sending money, or helping people arm themselves.”

    The company continued to follow the ultra-liberal approach when they were confronted again in 2013, this time by independent journalist James Cook. He’d discovered a website managed by al-Qaeda and protected by Cloudflare. Prince once again personally responded, this time in a blog post. “A website is speech. It is not a bomb. We do not believe in ‘investigating’ if the speech that flows through our network is appropriate. In fact, we think doing so would be creepy.”

    In 2015 rogue hacking group Anonymous (which some argue are terrorists themselves) accused Cloudflare of serving “dozens” of ISIS-affiliated websites. Prince called this an “armchair analysis” by “15-year-old kids in Guy Fawkes masks.” He denied that the websites were ISIS-affiliated.

    The first crack in Cloudflare’s seemingly invincible – or absent – conscience came last year, in response to the Charlottesville riots. Cloudflare ended their protection of white-supremacist and neo-Nazi site the Daily Stormer. In an internal email, Prince said he “woke up in a bad mood and decided to kick them off the internet.” He explained the decision further in a public blog post, where he said the company’s perspective changed when the Daily Stormer hinted that Cloudflare might support their views.

    Logically, Cloudflare should have been investigated six years ago when the first terrorist website was discovered. Inexplicably, however, Cloudflare has never seen the business end of a gavel. Prince, who by all accounts has maintained an iron grip over the company since founding it in 2009, has continued to fight this as if it were a moral debate.

    Prince’s stance seems to be that simply letting hackers destroy any website Cloudflare doesn’t approve of is not real justice. The removal of a website should only be done at the direction of a court. In many ways, his statements echo the arguments for net neutrality: altering how the internet is seen and accessed should not be in the hands of a commercial body. It should, however, be in the hands of the legal system, which makes the fact that the government has never requested that Cloudflare terminate services for a webpage even more confusing.

    Ultimately, however, this is not a moral debate. Several possible reasons exist for Cloudflare’s decision to continue protecting these websites. First and foremost is that Cloudflare believes it is the government’s responsibility, the government believes it is Cloudflare’s responsibility, and neither is paying attention to the matter. Hopefully, that’s not the case.

    The other possibility is that despite what Cloudflare claims, they do in fact work with government agencies to monitor the websites for useful information. During an interview in 2015, Prince hinted that the government had approved them to keep certain “controversial” sites online. The FBI, Justice Department, State Department, Treasury Department and the White House all declined to comment on this speculation.

    Cloudflare’s mission is to “make the internet a better place.” By protecting websites belonging to terrorists, they would not be doing that. At the end of the day, all we can do is hope that they’re doing the right thing behind closed doors.

    Permalink to story.

  2. psycros

    psycros TS Evangelist Posts: 2,669   +2,427

    OK, Mr. Myerson, we all understand where YOU'RE coming from, and I certainly agree that there's should be no safe harbor for hate-mongering philosophies such as fundamentalist Islamic terror. But you are not only heading towards the slippery slope, you're bloody well surfing it on a rocket-powered boogie board. Perhaps you don't realize it but you've essentially said that the GOVERNMENT should be in charge of what we see online. I mean, is that really what you want? I'd say move to China or Russia if you enjoy politically-motivated censorship that much. (Obviously, moving to a theocratic Arab state wouldn't be a viable option). I'll tell you exactly who should control what's seen on the internet: the person using it, or their parents/guardians if their underage, and nobody else. However, that doesn't mean terrorists get to spread their message carte blanche. The solution is so obvious I don't know why nobody is talking about it: when dealing with government-designated "bad actors" you just frame their sites with warnings and links detailing their acts of violence. Web of Trust and other web rating services already provide such warnings although the ones that are shaped by public votes are constantly manipulated to support different agendas (just like Wikipedia). Terrorist sites should be treated like malware sites, with a full page pop-up summarizing the entity's violent history, with links to respected news sources and the like. If you still want to view the site you have to click the "I agree that I am about to get a face full of hateful propaganda" button which also means you accept a supercookie for tracking. Cloudflare itself could provide this service with the help of western governments. Unless the user employs end-to-end encryption with the sites in question there is literally no way to circumvent this..and guess what, the hard-core terrorists already mask themselves this way (particularly the site admins). The solution is NOT to start allowing governments with their own agendas to control who gets to see what. We've already got universal surveillance - giving the feds control of the web is an open invitation to creeping tyranny. Its a very small step from blocking foreign organizations to blacklisting domestic ones and that will only fan the flames of partisanship. Imagine the Democrat's reaction if the FBI suddenly designates BLM a terrorist organization, because the movement's member's HAVE advocated murder on multiple occasions and are probably responsible for the death of at least one police officer. The Democrats have already tried to get the Minutemen labeled a terror group despite the fact they've never advocated violence, but some of them DO carry guns for self-defense. Its bad enough that the big ISPs now have the power to censor traffic on their own networks..imagine how bad things will get if the the government gets in on that. Yes, I realize the government already engages in limited domain blocking but this would be a new level.
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2018
  3. Tantor

    Tantor TS Enthusiast Posts: 43   +59

    Interesting article. It raises some very important points.

    Notice how all seven groups are enemies of Israel? - Taliban, al-Shabab, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Al Quds Brigades, the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and Hamas.

    None of those organizations are a threat to the US or to US interests. None are involved in serious criminal activity in the US. None have any significant political power in the US. None have members of Congress, members of the Federal Reserve or Supreme Court Justices.

    So who are the real terrorists in the US, the groups that actually harm Traditional America?

    Don Lemon recently said white men radicalized to the right are “the biggest terror threat” to the US. CNN refused to comment or censure Lemon. CNN obviously agrees with Lemon. This belief is widespread and increasing dramatically.

    But are white men really the worst? What about Black gangs like the Bloods and Crips? How about Mexican gangs that smuggle drugs and traffic in people? MS-13. How about Black Lives Matter, they clearly hate traditional America and those with European ethnicity.

    So who decides who is a terrorist? This stuff can easily get out of control.

    For example, look at the Russian Mafia.

    According to Wikipedia: "... Louis Freeh, former director of the FBI, said that the Russian mafia posed the greatest threat to U.S. national security in the mid-1990s.... In modern times, there are as many as 6,000 different groups, with more than 200 of them having a global reach.

    Where did the Russian mob come from? "... during the 1970s and 1980s, the United States expanded its immigration policies, allowing Soviet Jews, with most settling in a southern Brooklyn area known as Brighton Beach (sometimes nicknamed as "Little Odessa"). Here is where Russian organized crime began in the US." - Wikipedia

    Who runs the Russian mob?

    According to Wikipedia: "... believed by European and United States federal law enforcement agencies to be the "boss of bosses" of most Russian Mafia syndicates in the world [Semion] Mogilevich is believed to direct a vast criminal empire and is described by the FBI as "the most dangerous mobster in the world." He has been accused by the FBI of "weapons trafficking, contract murders, extortion, drug trafficking, and prostitution on an international scale... Mogilevich was born in 1946 to a Jewish family in Kiev's Podol neighborhood."

    Massive illegal immigration is one of the most destructive things that can happen to a nation. Israel built massive walls to prevent a Palestinian invasion. Should we do likewise and put organizations that support illegal immigration into the US on a terrorist list?

    But we find that most American Jewish organizations support open US borders. What do we do?

    Here's the secret. One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.
    Plutoisaplanet and PEnnn like this.
  4. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 5,287   +3,698

    Once in a mistake; twice is criminal intent and should be dealt with accordingly and not just with these folks but for ANY and ALL IT companies that put profits ahead of their civil & domestic responsibilities. Heads need to roll and it must start with the TOP, not the bottom. Only then will these actions be taken seriously and real change made.
    loki1944 likes this.
  5. loki1944

    loki1944 TS Addict Posts: 132   +81

  6. loki1944

    loki1944 TS Addict Posts: 132   +81

    You're delusional and incredibly uninformed if you don't know that Taliban, al-Shabab, and Al Quds are a threat to US interests and homeland.
    orondf likes this.
  7. fktech

    fktech TS Maniac Posts: 523   +136

    How about Facebook!

Add your comment to this article

You need to be a member to leave a comment. Join thousands of tech enthusiasts and participate.
TechSpot Account You may also...