The Daily Stormer, a white supremacist website that has become a sort of football to be kicked around in the current controversy around hate speech, was briefly reinstated on DreamHost earlier today. Very briefly.
The site apparently appeared under the domain punishedstormer.com around the time we noted that it had been largely forced to rely on Tor for hosting purposes. Only a few minutes afterwards, however, DreamHost was subjected to an extended distributed denial-of-service attack taking down many of its services.
At first the motive behind this attack was unclear; there are, unfortunately for DreamHost, many reasons people might try to take it down.
Supporters of the Daily Stormer’s “right” to be hosted there may have attacked in order to punish the service for its earlier ban. Opponents of the Daily Stormer may have attacked it because it had decided to re-host the site. And to muddy the waters further, it all took place while DreamHost representatives were at a Justice Department hearing regarding a recent subpoena for visitors to an anti-Trump website. Could it be that?
Fortunately DreamHost has said that at least the last option is off the table. The attacks “would not seem to be related” to the DoJ hearing, a representative told TechCrunch. “At this point it looks like one of our customer sites was targeted.”
The other part of the puzzle comes from Andrew Anglin, who runs the Daily Stormer. On Gab, the social network recently removed from both Google and Apple’s app stores for hate speech, Anglin posted an email ostensibly from DreamHost informing him of a new ban. Another terms of service violation was claimed, this time for “activity which causes service interruptions to either DreamHost’s network/servers or any outside network.” We haven’t confirmed the content of this email, but have asked the company for details.
Anglin characterized the email in this fashion:
Dreamhost just sent me an email saying that I was banned for being DDoSed, and it makes it sound like I did it myself.
This is like blaming a rape victim for wearing a short skirt. Except unlike rape, this actually happened.
So much for “freedom of speech.”
However, in a follow-up email, DreamHost (again quoted by Anglin) gave a different reason for the ban: “The opening of multiple accounts of service plans in order to bypass any restrictions or overage charges set forth by DreamHost.”
In other words, if you get kicked off, you can’t just start a new account and try again with the same website and content that got you kicked off in the first place.
A whois query shows that punishedstormer.com is currently registered (though it doesn’t resolve at present) at GoDaddy, which has already booted the site once and may do so again. We’re asking them for details.
We’re waiting on DreamHost’s full analysis of what happened today, and will update this post as soon as we get it.