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Spurned by Major Companies, The Daily Stormer Returns to the Web With Help From a Startup

The 20-year-old founder of BitMitigate said he had taken on the neo-Nazi website because he believes in free speech and because, “I thought it would really get my service out there.”

The neo-Nazi site The Daily Stormer was back online Friday with help from a small company whose founder said he wanted to defend free speech and raise the commercial profile of his new venture.

The Daily Stormer was dumped by several internet service providers this week after it posted a story mocking the appearance of Heather Heyer, the 32-year-old woman killed on Saturday in Charlottesville. By mid-week, it was accessible only through what is known as the dark web, a corner of the internet that is not easily accessible to ordinary users.

Nick Lim, the 20-year-old founder of the company BitMitigate, said he offered his services to Daily Stormer founder Andrew Anglin because he believes in free speech, but also to get the word out about his company, which protects websites from so-called denial of services attacks that overwhelm internet servers. 

“People should be given the right to express their ideas,” he said, adding: “I thought it would really get my service out there.”

According to Lim, he was monitoring news reports and learned that services like Cloudflare, along with GoDaddy and Google, had dropped The Daily Stormer after an outcry from activists. He thought their actions violated Anglin’s rights to free speech and reached out to The Daily Stormer to offer help.

Lim, whose domain bitmitigate.com was registered in March, said he was small compared to giants like Cloudflare, and also wanted to create publicity for his company. “This whole thing is really entertaining,” he said. 

When asked if he knew what The Daily Stormer was, Lim said he hadn’t really looked into it. When a ProPublica reporter described the site’s ideology and its history of trolling its critics, Lim said it sounded stupid. He then took a look himself at what The Daily Stormer had posted today, and he was even more dismissive. “I think there’s a lot of stupid ideas here,’’ he said. “But frankly it’s not my decision or something I really want to get involved in.”

Lim said that while he was not part of the fringe right, he did not not want to either condemn or endorse the views of his clients.

Asked if he would consider dropping a client for any reason, he said he would do so if the actual site harmed people in some way. Lim said he would not drop a client for ideology, content or calls to harrass specific people. He criticized Cloudflare, the web security company, for dropping The Daily Stormer as a client.

“It’s actually quite ironic the decision made by Cloudflare. It’s not like they really care about the people they protect — they protect several ISIS websites,” he said. A representative from Cloudflare did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Lim doesn’t take money from Anglin, or from any site he protects with his services. He admitted he was losing money, but hopes his other service, protecting servers for video games like Minecraft, will make up for it.

Late night on Thursday, and into the early hours of Friday, Lim tweeted his disdain for the left and his concern that free speech was being eroded.

“People think they are doing good by silencing white supremacists but in reality they are chipping away at constitutional rights,” he said in one tweet, adding later, “Is the left evil or just stupidevil?”

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Portrait of Ken Schwencke

Ken Schwencke

Ken Schwencke is a journalist and developer on ProPublica’s news apps team, covering hate crimes and white supremacist movements.

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