Matthew Prince, chief executive officer of Cloudflare, attends the Day 3 of the RISE Conference 2018 at Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre on July 12, 2018 in Hong Kong, Hong Kong.
Photo: S3studio via Getty Images

Cloudflare doubles down

Protocol Enterprise

Hello and welcome to Protocol Enterprise! Today: Cloudflare finally responds, in a fashion, to the controversy over its support of Kiwi Farms, what to think about when shopping for an AI auditor and Qualcomm’s renewed interest in server chips might be on hold.

Power struggles

While not directly addressing the recent online protests against Cloudflare, executives from the company today suggested they're not likely to halt services for controversial customers in the future.

  • Without Cloudflare's security services, it’s unlikely that Kiwi Farms — a site with a long history of harassment that has been blamed for several suicides — would be able to stay online.
  • Calls for Cloudflare to act have been growing in recent weeks after transgender activist Clara Sorrenti was forced into hiding by a campaign organized on Kiwi Farms.

In a blog post today, Cloudflare co-founder and CEO Matthew Prince and head of public policy Alissa Starzak said they’ve concluded that "the power to terminate security services for [controversial] sites was not a power Cloudflare should hold."

  • "Just as the telephone company doesn't terminate your line if you say awful, racist, bigoted things, we have concluded in consultation with politicians, policy makers, and experts that turning off security services because we think what you publish is despicable is the wrong policy," the executives said.

Cloudflare has previously cut off service to sites on account of "reprehensible" content on two occasions, they said, but "just because we did it in a limited set of cases before doesn’t mean we were right when we did. Or that we will ever do it again."

  • Still, as Tom Krazit pointed out in this newsletter earlier this week, one could also conclude that Cloudflare's leadership doesn't see anti-trans hate as a societal problem that's as serious as others that, in the past, have prompted action by the company.
— Kyle Alspach (email | twitter)

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Need an AI audit?

Hired’s chief technology officer, Dave Walters, was in the market earlier this year for an algorithmic bias audit. And now that there’s a New York City law requiring companies that provide automated employment decision tools to get their tech inspected by January 2023, there’s a growing pool of auditing services out there to choose from.

Walters’ story, as told to Protocol, was edited for clarity and brevity.

Because of how new it was, there was no single standard approach that every auditor was taking. Some of the key metrics we looked at:

  • How new was the company: Did they just spin up this year?
  • What kind of funding did they have … We wanted to make sure that whoever we partnered with was going to have that level of stability.
  • We looked at the auditing, not as a point-in-time audit, [where] we just check this box, go through an audit, then we move on and forget about it. But for us, this is a long-term initiative and partnership.

And as we narrowed down the field to the last couple of potential partners, we also then asked those candidates to provide us with sample reports from audits that they've done previously. We were able to see those public-facing, unredacted reports and see some of the more internal, [redacted] reports to have a better feel for what our end result would be.

Seeing that report and understanding how that's going to translate into your business, and how that's going to benefit you, I think is critical.

In the end, Hired chose London-based Holistic AI, which Walters believes will not only check the AI fairness compliance box, but offer deeply technical services for a long-term partnership. Find out why some audit providers didn’t make the cut in the full story.

— Kate Kaye (email | twitter)

Modernizing payments

NACHA and other industry groups and regulators are pushing for big changes. In this Protocol virtual event, we'll speak with a panel of payment experts and regulators to discuss how banks can stay ahead of the curve and ensure the U.S. can catch up with innovation overseas. Join Protocol’s Tomio Geron on Sept. 8 at 10 a.m. PT for a panel discussion featuring Sara Xi, chief product officer, Prime Trust; James Colassano, senior vice president, product development and strategy, The Clearing House; and Leigh Lytle, U.S. policy lead, Plaid. RSVP here.

License to sue

Arm launched a lawsuit against Qualcomm Wednesday, alleging that the semiconductor giant violated a license agreement that governed the use of Arm's chip designs by its recently acquired Nuvia unit.

Nuvia had been developing new Arm-based chips as an independent company and had purchased a license from Arm to use its technology in server processors. But after it was acquired by Qualcomm in 2021, Arm alleged that Qualcomm failed to secure the proper permission to transfer Arm’s tech and the chip schematics based on it, or make its own chips based on what Nuvia was developing.

“These technological achievements have required years of research and significant costs and should be recognized and respected,” Arm said in a statement. “As an intellectual property company, it is incumbent upon us to protect our rights and the rights of our ecosystem.”

“Arm’s complaint ignores the fact that Qualcomm has broad, well-established license rights covering its custom-designed CPUs, and we are confident those rights will be affirmed,” Qualcomm said in a statement.

At the time of the acquisition, Qualcomm said Nuvia would shift its focus to consumer chips, and Qualcomm has announced its intention to make a desktop processor that would rival Apple’s in-house M series processors.

But a recent report suggested that Qualcomm had once again revived its server-chip efforts — a previous attempt to crack the server market died years ago — leading to speculation among chip industry insiders that it planned to update Nuvia’s original efforts based on Arm designs.

— Max A. Cherney (email | twitter)

Around the enterprise

Both Nvidia and AMD confirmed that they had received notice of new export restrictions on shipments of AI chips to Russia and China, which could cost Nvidia $400 million in revenue next quarter if it doesn’t obtain a license.

Seagate cut its revenue and profit forecast for the rest of the year, warning of weakness in spending on storage products by “global enterprise/OEM and certain U.S. cloud customers.”

A MESSAGE FROM VMWARE

VMware sits at the center of the multi-cloud universe and is focused on providing consistency across clouds, enabling choice of location and delivering best of breed capabilities. Join thousands of peers, hundreds of experts and VMware leaders at VMware Explore on the journey to remake the cloud, together.

Learn more

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