Neo-Nazi site The Daily Stormer is running out of options to stay online. There has been a public outcry against tech companies helping websites, such as The Daily Stormer. On August 18th, the team behind The Daily Stormer found a way to put the website back online. But now that NameCheap has taken down the website’s new domain name, it is back offline for most people.
If you want to host a controversial website, you need a server to host your website, a protection service against denial-of-service attacks and a domain name to make your site reachable.
While The Daily Stormer used to rely on DigitalOcean and DreamHost (at least until 2014) to run its server, both companies have stopped working with the website. DigitalOcean cited a violation of the company’s terms of service.
But it’s not that hard to host a website in your attic without doing business with anyone. All you need is a computer and an internet connection. The only issue is that you need a content delivery network to cache your website around the world so that people can actually load pages.
That’s why The Daily Stormer had been using Cloudflare’s CDN. But Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince bowed to public pressure and terminated Cloudflare’s relationship with The Daily Stormer.
Prince also says that this is an exception and there should be a clear framework to address similar issues in the future. The Electronic Frontier Foundation also agrees with this point of view.
But ProPublica reported that another CDN company called BitMitigate stepped up and offered to help The Daily Stormer. 20-year-old founder Nick Lim said it comes down to free speech. According to him, infrastructure companies shouldn’t drop clients because they disagree with their clients’ views.
So The Daily Stormer is back online then? Not exactly.
A server and a CDN isn’t enough if you don’t have a domain name. When you enter an address in your browser, such as google.com or amazon.com, companies have purchased those domain names so they can redirect your query to their servers. And that’s the issue here.
The Daily Stormer had been using GoDaddy to register its original domain name. GoDaddy quickly terminated The Daily Stormer’s account, saying that a hateful article against the victim of the violence in Charlottesville was violating the terms of service.
Google Domains and Tucows (the company behind Hover.com) also both refused to help The Daily Stormer. Even the Russian media watchdog Roskomnadzor asked Ru-Center to cancel dailystormer.ru after the website tried to relocate to Russia.
And yet, the team successfully registered dailystormer.lol using Namecheap. Anybody could type this address and load The Daily Stormer. But it didn’t last long. “I believe that hate speech and incitement of violence provides ample legal support for a proper termination of the domains,” Namecheap CEO Richard Kirkendall wrote in a statement earlier today.
So The Daily Stormer is back offline again — at least for most people. You can still access it through the Tor network as anybody can set up their own domain name on the dark web. So you won’t find The Daily Stormer in Google search results any time soon.