With this move, Cloudflare is wading into the business of evaluating the content of its clients — something sites like Facebook and Twitter have been wrestling with for years, leading them to develop complex rules and procedures that govern what users are and are not allowed to post. Most agree that it’s appropriate for social media companies to take down certain kinds of content — that’s how they ensure our newsfeeds aren’t full of pornography or violence. But that doesn’t mean we don’t want that type of content to be able to exist somewhere on the internet. Ensuring that sites like Cloudflare remain content-neutral might be necessary to guarantee that.
One of the additional difficulties with Cloudflare is that it is not so much a piece of pipe as it is a service. Specifically, it is a paid-for-protection service. Having to hire Cloudflare to protect your website is like having to hire security to protect you from attackers when you speak in the public square. If that security service is the only one in town, and you’ll be silenced if you try to speak without it, maybe that security service shouldn’t pick and choose whom it protects. While regulation should not be done lightly or broadly, there’s a case to be made that we should treat Cloudflare more like the police, who are supposed to equally protect all members of the public.