The Internet, once the last bastion of truly free speech, is slowly being overrun by lawyers and government officials the world over. Certainly, there are criminals who need to be apprehended for their illegal online exploits, but those of us who are merely exercising our first amendment right should feel protected.
Sadly, many mainstream web hosts will drop your site as soon as you attract the smallest amount of opposition. They are, after all, intimidated by the threat of losing money in a lawsuit. Luckily, there are still a few brave web hosts that cherish free speech and that will stand behind your site (unless you are clearly in violation of law).
Below, we have listed 11 hosts that we believe are not likely to dump you at the first sign of controversy.
While InMotion Hosting doesn’t allow pornographic material (including Anime), fraud, mailbombing, denial of service attacks, storing and/or housing and/or linking to illegal content, they do allow other forms of freedom of speech, especially mainstream pro-inclusive sites. Several of their hosting packages have been upgraded recently to include more disk space, bandwidth, email and more. Their packages start with a small personal Web hosting plan and increase in space, bandwidth, and features up to Virtual Personal and Dedicated server systems.
Per Liquid Web‘s Terms of Service, they do prohibit some forms of illegal content, including copyrighted material, pornography, pirated software, warez, and game servers, but Liquid Web is highly recommended by us as a reliable Web host that isn’t overly judicious in their Terms of Service. Liquid Web is known for their tremendous 24/7 tech support.
Based in Houston, Texas, HostGator believes that first amendment rights should be extended to all of their customers, so long as the content is not illegal. Their Terms of Service indicate that, “All services provided by HostGator may only be used for lawful purposes.” They do reserve the right however to exclude certain forms of illegal content, including proxy anonymizers, pirated software, spam scripts, lottery or gambling sites, among others. However, other kinds of content that are prohibited by even other hosts on this list are allowed, like adult pornography (child pornography is prohibited and for good reason).
Sometimes a Web hosting provider’s TOS won’t be specify what they allow, but information about what they don’t allow can help define parameters. DreamHost won’t host sites that “contain material in violation of any country, federal, state or local regulation”, like posting Nazi propaganda in a country that outlaws it. France prohibits use of those materials on their web sites, and DreamHost’s willingness to abide by other country’s laws sidesteps the problems that Yahoo! encountered in 2000.
DreamHost also reasonably prohibits hosting child pornography, any infringement on copyrighted materials, or any content that advocates, sells, or makes available tools or methods to send unsolicited e-mail or usenet postings (spam). However, a search for free speech reveals that DreamHost supported some Pagan users and book authors to host materials that have been banned on other hosting services.
If you are interested in publishing a Web site on a subversive topic, then it would be best to avoid mainstream hosting services. Project DoD is a small collective of web professionals who want to help people with alternative sites. From hackers to indie-rock bands, many people have found refuge with this host. The company is run in a democratic fashion, too, as it is a completely member-supported operation with no corporate sponsorship.
While Host Excellence is generally supportive of their customers’ rights to free speech, they do prohibit some potentially offensive material from being hosted on their servers, including any content that infringes on intellectual property rights as well as adult content.
IX Web Hosting
The Terms of Service at IX Web Hosting does prohibit certain forms of content, including pornography. They also have some restrictions on the misuse of intellectual property and spam, but are generally supportive of free speech otherwise.
Formerly known as The Planet, SoftLayer makes no claim to free speech allowances, but we discovered sites with hate speech on their network in addition to a free speech advocate site. To that end, The Planet’s AUP does state that it reserves the right to comply with any investigation without notice to a user.
The Planet also reserves the right to disclose information relating to users and their use of The Planet services “if such information is disclosed in connection with an investigation or in order to prevent the death of or bodily harm to any individual, as determined by The Planet in its sole discretion.” The Planet’s services range from dedicated servers to enterprise-class managed hosting. They serve more than 22,000 customers from six SAS 70 Type II certified data centers.
Grex is a public access computer conferencing company that advocates free speech on the Net. Membership with Grex is free and will allow you to publish your own personal site. Although the available space is limited and will not support multimedia files, CGI, or SSI, this could be the perfect solution if you want to create a simple, static site with no corporate interference. The only thing asked of you is that you log in every few months to keep the account active.
CrisisHost is one of the oldest free speech Web hosting companies still in existence. Offering flexible, low-cost hosting packages since 2003, CrisisHost only prohibits illegal activity, such as calls for violence or copyright infringement. Other than those stipulations, you are free to publish any kind of content via CrisisHost’s server. Reseller packages are also available from CrisisHost.
Computer Tyme is a host that embraces controversial sites, particularly ones that feature political dissent. They stand by a mission statement to protect you from government censorship and boorish lawyers. Naturally, the company prohibits illegal content such as copyright infringement, but they don’t routinely police any of their hosted sites.