In an article that included interviews with the ‘who’s who’ of constitutional scholars the Times tried to build a case against restricting free speech.
The article was clearly an attempted repudiation of Donald Trump’s remarks at the last Republican Debate regarding shutting down known terrorist recruiting websites. The premise of the article is that doing so would be a clear violation of the 1st Amendment.
But is it?
“Appeals for a tougher response to the Islamic State’s online recruiting efforts have, not surprisingly, emerged from the political realm. Donald J. Trump said the government should call on Bill Gates and others to somehow close off dangerous Internet sites, and called First Amendment concerns foolish.”
-New York Times, December 27,2015 Online edition
The elephant in the room that the Times didn’t mention is that most terrorist sympathizing websites are hosted in third world countries, in order to purposely remain out of the jurisdiction of the United States.
This is exactly the reason that Trump’s call for shutting down these websites is perfectly legal. Only American citizens are granted 1st amendment rights, not foreign based terrorist groups operating in countries that are friendly to their cause.
Sites Hosted In The United States
It’s no secret in the IT world that it’s incredibly easy to get a site that is doing things that are unlawful shutdown in the United States.
US based hosting companies don’t want the attention that will be directed their way should someone use their servers as a jihad recruiting site.
Virtually every US based host has something in their Terms of Service agreement warning would be lawbreakers and general scumbags that they will not tolerate such behavior.
These agreements generally all carry the same warning, that your site will be taken down immediately and more than likely you won’t get your data back.
Here’s an example of a common US based Web Hosting agreement:
(source: https://secure.hostgator.com/tos/ )
The government would simply need to call HostGator, report the site, and it would be gone because it violates their Terms of Service, end of story.
Nearly every company in the nation has a similar agreement in place, so building a ISIS recruitment site on US based servers would be nearly impossible.
This leaves a jihadist one other method, build the sites on offshore servers, which plays right into the hands of the National Security Agency(NSA). The NSA wouldn’t even need to get a court order to hack, defame, take down or DDOS a foreign site, so Trump’s plan is definitely doable. He was obviously calling the 1st Amendment narrative ‘foolish’ because the jihadists sites are outside of the US which makes the 1st Amendment null and void for them.