The Battle for Free Speech on the Internet

Presented at Black Hat USA 2015, Aug. 5, 2015, 11:30 a.m. (50 minutes)

Google, Facebook, and Twitter all started out with admirable, lofty goals about preserving freedom of speech online saying that they wouldn't arbitrarily remove "distasteful" content. Yet one-by-one they all changed their position. Now countries, like Turkey are holding YouTube for ransom and bullying them to remove anything that they consider offensive or even inconvenient.

By protecting lawful content, no matter the source or how distasteful, you're protecting freedom of speech. So what does this mean for these companies on the front-line of the Internet? Matthew Prince, co-founder and CEO of CloudFlare, will explain what the cost of mob rule trumping the rule of law will be in the fight to keep the Internet free and open. He will share the real world impact that censorship has had on the Internet and the hidden cost born by the enterprises ultimately forced to censor themselves.

Protecting a free Internet can be a difficult and lonely road with pitfalls and traps that, once triggered, leads to a dead end of total censorship. Matthew will conclude with strategies for managing high-risk content, and suggested strategies for the future. We, as an industry, can work together to ensure that illegal content is effectively targeted and lawful content is protected.


  • Matthew Prince - CloudFlare
    Matthew Prince wrote his first computer program at age seven when his mom would sneak him in to university computer science courses. After attending law school, he worked as an attorney for one day before jumping at the opportunity to be a founding member of a tech startup. He hasn't looked back. CloudFlare is Matthew's third entrepreneurial venture. CloudFlare was named a 2012 Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum and selected by the Wall Street Journal as the Most Innovative Internet Technology company for the last two years running. Today, CloudFlare accelerates and protects more than 120 billion page views for over a million customers and more than 1.5 billion web visitors every month.Matthew holds a degree in English and Computer Science from Trinity College. He graduated with highest honors from the Harvard Business School where he was a George F. Baker Scholar and was awarded the Dubliner Prize for Entrepreneurship. He earned a JD from the University of Chicago and is a member of the Illinois Bar. He teaches technology law as an adjunct professor at the John Marshall Law School where he serves on the Board of Advisors for the Center for Information Technology and Privacy Law. He is also the co-creator of Project Honey Pot, the largest community of webmasters tracking online fraud and abuse. On the side, Matthew is a certified ski instructor, a former mountain guide, and a regular attendee of the Sundance Film Festival.


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