SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF/AP) — While Mountain View-based Google moved quickly to distance itself from neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer in the wake of the Charlottesville attack, one San Francisco company has helped protect the site from online attacks.
Access to the site has been sporadic since Monday, when Google canceled its domain name registration, making its IP address nearly impossible for internet users to locate. The site had moved its registration to Google after GoDaddy tweeted late Sunday night that it had given The Daily Stormer 24 hours to move its domain to another provider. Google then yanked the address as well, citing a violation of its terms of service.
However, by Wednesday afternoon, the website’s publisher said that he has “effectively been completely banned from the internet” after mocking the victim of a deadly car attack at a white nationalist rally in Virginia.
“Clearly, the powers that be believe that they have the ability to simply kick me off the internet,” Andrew Anglin, who has published the site from an undisclosed location, complained to The Associated Press in an e-mail.
Until mid-day Wednesday, the site continued to receive performance and security services from San Francisco-based Cloudflare Inc., protecting it from denial of service attacks.
Cloudflare said it is cooperating with law enforcement. A company statement called some of the content on Cloudfare’s network “repugnant.” but said withdrawing its services would not remove the website from the internet, just make it slower and more vulnerable to attack.
Shortly thereafter, the site that takes its name from Der Stürmer, a newspaper that published Nazi propaganda, disappeared again. Anglin said he was struggling to find a domain registry service whose terms of service allow for the content he produces.
“I have been kicked off of 4 of them so far, and many of them contain explicit references to “hate speech” in their ToS. Others would be incapable of managing the DDoS attacks,” Anglin wrote, expressing frustration with ICANN, the international nonprofit that authorizes domain-name registrars. “If they don’t have a single registrar willing to host me, then they have effectively banned me from registering a domain.”
Cloudflare was continuing to receive criticism for helping the Daily Stormer site on it’s social media accounts, with many of its posts on Twitter and Facebook receiving multiple replies or comments calling for the company to stop providing services and mocking Cloudflare.
GoDaddy and Google acted after Anglin’s publication of a post mocking the 32-year-old woman killed in a deadly attack at a white nationalist rally in Virginia.
According to a report posted on Techcrunch.com, two additional web hosting services firms on Tuesday said they have terminated services to the Daily Stormer.
Both Denver-based email newsletter services provider Sendgrid and SaaS suite provider Zoho (which has one of its corporate headquarters in Pleasanton) confirmed they have terminated services to the Daily Stormer’s account after receiving criticism on Twitter.
The site briefly reappeared Wednesday with a Russian domain name and registration and a dubious top story, making the unsupported claim that President Donald Trump had called Russian President Vladimir Putin to get the site restored. The story presented no evidence that Trump or Putin had any involvement in the move and Trump has no known links to the site.
Anglin had been keeping up his inflammatory statements through the Russian domain, mocking Heather Heyer, the woman who was killed when a man remembered for praising Adolph Hitler rammed his car into a crowd of demonstrators in Charlottesville on Saturday. The original story called her, among many other things, “the definition of uselessness.”
But Anglin had other fresh trouble as well: A Muslim-American radio host filed a federal lawsuit on Wednesday accusing him of defamation by falsely labeling him the “mastermind” of a deadly concert bombing in England.
SiriusXM Radio show host Dean Obeidallah said The Daily Stormer embedded fabricated tweets in a June 1 story to make them seem like they had been sent from Obeidallah’s Twitter account, tricking readers into believing he took responsibility for the May 22 terrorist attack at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester. The death threats came quickly thereafter.
“It was literally jaw-dropping,” Obeidallah, a comedian and Daily Beast columnist, told the AP. “The death threats were something I’ve never seen before in my life.”
The suit claims that the article’s defamatory statements were intended to incite violence against Obeidallah, citing other alleged examples of Daily Stormer readers who did just that, including Dylann Roof, who read the site before killing black churchgoers in South Carolina.
“Mr. Obeidallah is an ardent believer in and defender of the First Amendment. He recognizes the importance of freedom of speech and political discourse, regardless of viewpoint. But the First Amendment does not license defamation,” his suit says.
Asked by the AP for comment on the lawsuit, Anglin gave a two-word response: “Wew lads,” referring to an internet meme expressing sarcastic fake-surprise and dismissiveness.
The Daily Stormer also was sued in April by a Montana woman for orchestrating an anti-Semitic trolling campaign against her family.
Tanya Gersh’s suit claims anonymous internet trolls bombarded Gersh’s family with hateful and threatening messages after Anglin published their personal information in a post accusing her and other Jewish residents of Whitefish, Montana, of engaging in an “extortion racket” against the mother of white nationalist Richard Spencer.
Gersh is represented by attorneys from the Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups. In July, the law center’s lawyers claimed Anglin was “actively concealing his whereabouts” and hadn’t been served with Gersh’s suit. They said they looked for him at four addresses in Franklin County, Ohio, where he apparently has connections.
Obeidallah’s lawsuit was filed in Columbus, Ohio, since Anglin is an Ohio native who uses a post office box in Worthington, Ohio.
A lawyer for Obeidallah said The Daily Stormer hasn’t responded to their request to remove the June 1 article about him. Obeidallah is represented by Muslim Advocates, a national legal and educational organization based in Oakland, California.
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