There is currently a politico-economic divide among Americans, and oddly enough, it doesn’t seem to be particularly liberals vs. conservatives this time. Rather, the issue of net neutrality (which, if you are unfamiliar, you can read more on here), is a matter of how much regulation the federal government should be able to impose on the marketplace. Whereas proponents of net neutrality will claim the regulations are required to maintain a free, equal, and open web, opponents to the policy claim that the free market would ensure that consumers are not cheated.
Today, Ajit Pai, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, is in charge of repealing net neutrality. In a 200-page FCC fact sheet titled, “Restoring Internet Freedom,” details regarding net neutrality and the FCC’s desire to repeal it are laid out in an organized manner.
However, an interesting part off the FCC’s systematic document outlining their plan to repeal net neutrality includes a defense of the notorious neo-Nazi media outlet The Daily Stormer.
The Daily Stormer is a far-right, alternative media outlet headed by the infamous Andrew Anglin, who is a controversial figure in media today. In the aforementioned document detailing the FCC’s plan to repeal net neutrality, Anglin’s website was cited in a footnote.
On page 152, the document reads:
“…[internet] providers have voluntarily abided by no-blocking practices even during periods where they were not legally required to do so. As to free expression in particular, we note that none of the actual incidents discussed in the Title II Order squarely implicated free speech. If anything, recent evidence suggests that hosting services, social media platforms, edge providers, and other providers of virtual Internet infrastructure are more likely to block content on viewpoint grounds.”
And in a footnote,
“See, e.g., Cloudflare, Why We Terminated Daily Stormer (Aug. 16, 2017), https://blog.cloudflare.com/why-weterminated-daily-stormer/ (explaining why Cloudflare, which provides reverse proxy, CDN, and DNS services, ceased providing these services to the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer website: ‘[W]e’ve felt angry at these hateful people for a long time but . . . remained content neutral as a network. We could not remain neutral after these claims of secret support by Cloudflare.’).”
The censoring of neo-Nazi content by internet providers on the basis of opposing viewpoints is equivalent to ideological censorship. Moreover, to have The Daily Stormer, which began as a “shitposting website,” represented in a federal document regarding American “freedom of expression” is almost surreal. Things are certainly getting weird – but is that necessarily a bad thing?