Rackspace Shuts Down Koran-Burning Web Site

12 comments

Rackspace Hosting is in the news today after the company invoked its terms of service in terminating web services for the Dove World Outreach Center, the controversial Florida church that has scheduled a Koran-burning event for this Saturday.

Rackspace said it received a complaint about the site’s content, and a review found that the center’s web site ”violated the hate-speech provision of our acceptable-use policy,” Rackspace spokesman Dan Goodgame told CNN. Goodgame said Rackspace discussed the issue with the church and gave it an opportunity to revise its content to adhere to its hosting agreement. When it was clear that changes were not forthcoming, Rackspace informed Dove World that its services would be terminated and advised it to find a new provider.

Pastor Terry Jones of Dove World complained to the media about the web site termination. “We feel that it’s definitely an indirect attack on our freedom of speech,” Jones said.

“This is not a constitutional issue,” Goodgame told CNN. “This is a contract issue.” Rackspace’s Acceptable Use Policy includes a clause prohibiting content that “is excessively violent, incites violence, threatens violence, or contains harassing content or hate speech.”

About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor-in-chief of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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12 Comments

  1. NOSPAM

    I hope Rackspace can survive the negative publicity it is going to receive for acting as the governments henchman and denying the free speech of this pastor. We may or may not like the speech, but this speech in particular (a political message) is the most important of all to protect. Rackspace is hanging it out there so to speak in censoring this guy. Bad idea. They will lose a lot of customers.

  2. James G.

    I am not sure, but a contract can not violate someones freedom of speech. it might become a null and void part of the contract or null and void it all together if it went to a court. I think hosting companies should only provide and manage the equipment the company is renting. all intellectual and liability concerns are then forwarded to the actual client. Again, lawyers sticking their hands too far into the reality of legality. Someone please shut the lawyers up!!!

  3. Freedom of speech does not mean being required to continue a customer relationship. There are plenty of other avenues the church can, and has been, using to get it's message across and rackspace is not blocking them from doing so. Rackspace mearly terminated their business relationship.

  4. Joe T.

    Sorry Rackspace but the lawyers will line up for this battle pro-bono for sure. The terms of the agreement that include “is excessively violent, incites violence, threatens violence, or contains harassing content or hate speech.” is a very broad statement and I'm sure a jury will find that it's very subjective. Good luck. I will scratch you from my possible provider list.

  5. hater hater

    negative publicity? this is a genius move. that church is absolutely inciting violence and this is a 100% valid TOS issue. Since this "church" is so evidently evil and indeed psychotic I think this will be a positive for Rackspace. If not, they have at least done the right thing, which is nice to see in the business space for a change.

  6. jinushaun

    @NOSPAM: Freedom of speech protects us from the government, not from business contracts with private corporations. People tend to forget that, on both sides of the political spectrum. This is a cut-and-dry contract dispute. Most, if not all, hosting providers contain a clause against using their service for hate-speech and illegal activities. The real question, from a legal standpoint, is whether the church's actions violated the terms of the contract.

  7. Although I disagree with burning books, I disagree even more with any provider selectively applying their TOS to follow whichever way the wind blows. Would Rackspace have done this to a customer who planned to burn bibles? I doubt it. What's funny is, this guy hasn't even burned the korans yet but Rackspace throws a TOS tantrum and shuts down his account because of his intentions. Are intentions included in the Rackspace TOS?

  8. I'm a die-hard defender of free speech, but I've got NO problem with Rackspace booting the whackjob. Their house, their rules. People seem to forget that the final word on TOS is at the discretion of the company. No private business is legally compelled to serve the village idiot, nor should they be. Someone will be more than happy to enable the crazy book-burning pastor and make money on the deal, I'm sure...

  9. > "Would Rackspace have done this to a customer who planned to > burn bibles? I doubt it." Probably would if it caused the controversy that this has, with comparable potential outcome. > What’s funny is, this guy hasn’t even burned the korans yet but Rackspace > throws a TOS tantrum and shuts down his account because of his intentions. > Are intentions included in the Rackspace TOS? I think you missed the point. Looks like Rackspace is claiming that the customers *content* violated the TOS. The content was the expression of their intent and the encouragement of others to follow suit: Offensive Content You may not publish, transmit or store on or via Rackspace's network and equipment any content or links to any content that Rackspace reasonably believes: ... is excessively violent, incites violence, threatens violence, or contains harassing content or hate speech; ... creates a risk to a person's safety or health, creates a risk to public safety or health, compromises national security, or interferes with a investigation by law enforcement;

  10. Ken M

    "is excessively violent, incites violence, threatens violence, or contains harassing content or hate speech" Let's see: the Pentagon, the State Dept, and the President have all stated that this action is likely to result in violence upon US service men and women. How much more evidence does one need? However, if one does just a LITTLE exploration on this guy, you will see the likely hate speech that he is likely to have posted. That's this guys basic stock. I like best his new association with the group that demonstrates at US service men and women's funerals, shouting "Thank God for dead solders!" Scum.

  11. JJ

    It would be of interest to get a list of all sites that have been terminated due to breech of contract.