Registrars continue to grapple with thorny questions about content.
What role do domain name organizations play when it comes to free speech? This continued to be a hot topic in 2018.
In the United States, the government cannot limit free speech. But businesses are not obliged to do the same.
Domain name companies try to stay out of thorny issues about content on websites but they have limits. Last year, GoDaddy told the operator of the white nationalist site Daily Stormer to move his domain off the platform after the death during the Charlottesville rallies. The website’s content wasn’t hosted at GoDaddy, but GoDaddy faced lots of pressure. The kicker was when GoDaddy determined that the site was inciting violence.
This year GoDaddy took similar action with Gab.com after the person who murdered people in a Pittsburgh synagogue was found to have posted hate speech on the site.
Rob Monster, the founder and CEO of domain name registrar Epik, welcomed Gab.com onto his platform. Although he doesn’t agree with much of the commentary on the site, he believes that sites should not be “de-platformed”. The decision to accept the domain brought a lot of heat and a subpoena from Pennsylvania’s attorney general.
It will be interesting to see how domain companies approach this thorny issue going forward. Will registries get more involved on various types of domain takedowns?
Rob Monster - Epik.com says
Andrew – you are right to pay close attention to this issue. The entire industry should be doing the same though most are stricken with normalcy bias.
In particular, I suggest watch the courts in PA. They appear to be the ones driving the most unaccountable bulk takedown operations on the planet.
I get that there is a time and a place for taking down phishing networks. However, ShadowServer and Registrar of Last Resort are moving beyond that.
See latest thread from this week on NamePros for a fully innocent domain that is collateral damage in an 800,000 domain takedown that was quietly reheated on November 28, 2018 with an updated list:
In this case, the registrar was not even notified, let alone the registrant of this 5 letter .com. The .COM registry was however aware.
Any domain investor should find it highly troubling that their domain asset can be impaired at will without due process and with no clear appeal process.
Charles Christopher says
>Any domain investor should
>find it highly troubling
Any domain REGISTRANT should find it highly troubling.
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
– Martin Niemöller, German Lutheran pastor 1946
The purpose of “free speech” is to protect unique and uncommon views, that is to protect INDIVIDUALITY. The purpose of its removal is collectivism, the desire to make all people be the same so as to manage them more easily. It has been this way for all time of man on earth.
It takes many forms:
Its the elephant the 6 blind men are describing differently, but it is one elephant.
This and the red flag “laws” are unconstitutional takings of property and impinging on natural rights.
Michael Travis says
Due to regulation and lawsuits Gab is already doomed. Rob Monster will regret ever getting involved. Free Speech isn’t free.
Rob Monster - Epik.com says
If you think this is about money or power, you have missed the plot. Free speech is not free. You got that part right.
However, this is much bigger than Gab. It just so happens that Gab caught my eye but I saw this coming many years ago. It just so happened to have crossed the Rubicon in Q4 2018.
Surely you can see that the censors have gone too far. No? Domains taken down and Sinkholed without Due Process. When is it enough for you to realize that the world changed.
“Andrew – you are right to pay close attention to this issue. The entire industry should be doing the same though most are stricken with normalcy bias.”
Ditto, times ten. “Normalcy bias,” yes indeed.
Folks, these companies waging war on free speech and due process are also often “in bed” with “government.” Think about that.
I’m all for free speech, but as my uncle from Italy said “if the westboro chuch members uttered profanities at the mourners of a loved one’s funeral in Italia, the whole town would slaughter the members and spit out, “that’s how we do we free speech in Italy. We don’t let these cretins get away with this disrespect”
Smell It says
Your uncle sounds like a moron.
I’d love to see you call my uncle this. You would cry uncle in 1 second. Cretino Nazi!
Let us know, “smell it”, when you and your congregation at Westboro Baptist appear at a funeral screaming profanities at the family members of VETs so we can slam your vitriolic free speech up your yaw sideways. Cretino POS
next up… suing general motors if you drive somewhere someone else doesn’t like.
Jason Palmeri says
If you ask me, relating this issue to “free speech” and censorship is missing the mark. Here (in the US, at least) we have free speech. We can say whatever we want; government cannot restrict it. A private company choosing to disassociate itself from another entity, either because it affects their profits or because of ideological differences or whatever, is entirely within its purview. It’s not censorship, nor is it an infringement of our constitutional free speech. Rather, this is just public pressure raising the bar on what is considered acceptable speech, and there’s nothing wrong with that. And companies shouldn’t be maligned for making decisions that protect their bottom lines or corporate values. We are living in a free, capitalist society after all. Those who are using “free speech” as a rallying cry are either misguided on what constitutional free speech really is or have their own agendas to push.
Private companies can do what they want to protect their profits, image, etc. Think about how Playboy magazine changed its format over the years. It’s not some big censorship conspiracy; it’s just a sign of the times.
You are as wrong as it gets.