Last week, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that the United States has seized two websites affiliated with U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH). The seized websites, Aletejahtv.com and kataibhezbollah.com, were illegally utilized by the terror group to recruit new members and promote their extremist propaganda.
The Counter Extremism Project (CEP) has previously called on GoDaddy to stop providing domain registrar services to another KH website that boasted of “[cutting] off the hand of America” and hosted videos of attacks on U.S. bases. However, the company refused to do so despite it being a clear violation of the company’s terms of services, which explicitly prohibit any group that “promotes, encourages or engages in terrorism, violence against people, animals, or property.” KH is an Iranian-sponsored, anti-American Shiite militia operating in Iraq that is responsible for killing hundreds of American soldiers, U.N. workers, and civilians.
Moreover, as CEP Executive Director David Ibsen has previously written, GoDaddy has had a dubiously selective record when it comes to deciding which websites to take down. Its primary reasoning for doing so appears to be on an ad hoc and reactive basis—typically following intense public scrutiny and outrage. Most notably, in the aftermath of the August 2017 Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, GoDaddy took down the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer website. However, the web company only acted after a tweet calling for them to do so went viral. When CEP advised GoDaddy about removing other extremist websites, the company refused to do so. Instead, the company opted to continue to provide services to yet another KH website along with a website belonging to the violent neo-Nazi group the Hammerskins.
Internet infrastructure companies can play a critical role in stopping the spread and facilitation of extremism online. One such example came from infrastructure-as-a-service provider Voxility, when it ceased to provide services to Epik-owned BitMitigate. Epik/BitMitigate had been servicing and supporting far-right sites and platforms. As Ibsen wrote then, “Voxility’s decision [to cease the provision of services] serves as a useful example of how a business-to-business (B2B) tech company can help prevent the spread of hateful, extremist content by denying critical services to other firms … The Internet is effectively a network of networks, an ecosystem where a reliance on others can be leveraged to mitigate the most extreme and dangerous websites.”
To read CEP’s Kata’ib Hezbollah resource, please click here.