Parler hopes for U.S. host as Russian firm provides temporary website

Parler still hopes to be hosted by a U.S. company when it fully returns to the internet, a top executive said on Tuesday, after it emerged that a partial return to the web this week had been aided by a Russian tech firm.

The social network—popular among conservatives and Trump supporters—was pulled offline last week in the wake of the U.S. Capitol riots, as a trio of tech firms accused Parler of failing to moderate user posts and potentially inciting violence.

The site disappeared last Monday after its account with hosting provider Amazon Web Services (AWS) was suspended and Apple and Google dropped the app.

After roughly a week of silence, Parler showed signs of life this week when a message from its CEO John Matze was shared to the domain. Internet records suggested the website was supported by a Russia-based hosting and cyberattack protection company called DDoS-Guard, a business headquartered in the city of Rostov-on-Don.

Now, Parler’s chief operating officer Jeffrey Wernick brushed off concerns about data security after researchers told The New York Times the site’s user information would be at risk of being spied on by the Russian government if it was hosted there.

But Wernick said DDoS-Guard was not hosting the full social media website, instead it was a temporary web page that is used to share updates from the company. He told the newspaper that the “preference” is still to have an American hosting firm.

Referencing DDoS-Guard, he said: “People should not make conclusions that it’ll be this company. People extrapolate too much and with limited information. They conclude what they want to conclude. I call that spreading misinformation.”

DDoS-Guard said in a statement sent to Newsweek on Tuesday that it was working with Parler, and noted the site did not violate its acceptable use policies.

It added: “The security provider is not at liberty to disclose the services provided to customers as it contradicts our privacy policy. However, due to the increased media attention, we have to state that the customer does not use the hosting service.

“DDoS-GUARD has no plans to hinder customer service experience until customers violate the law of the countries of their legal residence.”

The company said it “remains respectful to the laws of the countries where the company services and by no means endorses radical organizations, extremism, terrorism,or illegal activities. The company also does not support any political movement.”

Parler has been contacted for comment by Newsweek.

Since the website was pulled offline, there have been a series of conflicting claims about when Parler users should expect to regain access to their accounts. Matze initially said that it could be a week, before conceding it may never return.

The CEO told Fox News this week his team was now “confident” that Parler’s website could have its hosting restored by the end of January. But court filings as part of its ongoing lawsuit against AWS, seeking to restore hosting, suggest otherwise.

Matze said in a court filing on Monday that after its AWS suspension Parler reached out to six “extremely large potential providers.” All refused business.

Parler’s lawyer David Groesbeck said in a separate legal filing on Monday that none of the hosting providers were willing to be publicly revealed “for fear of the harm AWS has the potential to inflict” and indicated the outlook was currently dire.

He said in the filing: “AWS didn’t just put Parler up a creek without a paddle, it banished it up the Columbia River without a boat and made sure no other boats would be willing to come to the rescue… in sum, Parler is an internet company that cannot get on the internet. And the longer Parler lies dead, the harder it will be to resuscitate.”

Parler app icon A general view of the the Parler app icon displayed on an iPhone on January 9, 2021 in London, England. Parler hopes to be hosted by an U.S. company when it fully returns to the internet, a top executive said on Tuesday. Hollie Adams/Getty

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