Hacker Group Calls for PayPal Boycott
By Ina Steiner
The hacker group Anonymous is calling for a boycott of PayPal. It posted a letter online stating, "We encourage anyone using PayPal to immediately close their accounts and consider an alternative. The first step to being truly free is not putting one's trust into a company that freezes accounts when it feels like, or when it is pressured by the U.S. government."
A PayPal spokesperson told EcommerceBytes on Wednesday afternoon, "We haven't seen any changes to our normal operations (including account opening and closing)." She did not answer our question about whether PayPal continued to withhold funds from WikiLeaks, as the Anonymous letter claimed.
The issue with Anonymous began when PayPal permanently restricted the account used by WikiLeaks due to what PayPal called a violation of its Acceptable Use Policy, which states that it cannot be used for any activities that encourage, promote, facilitate or instruct others to engage in illegal activity.
After PayPal restricted WikiLeaks' account, Anonymous reportedly launched a DDoS attack called "Operation Avenge Assange," and some media reports said hackers were successful in taking down the PayPal blog for a few hours on the day after PayPal announced the Wikileaks account restriction. The attack on PayPal's website continued for four days.
Last week, the Justice Department announced the FBI had arrested 14 individuals on charges related to their alleged involvement in a cyber attack on PayPal's website as part of an action claimed by the group "Anonymous." The defendants were charged with allegedly conspiring with others to intentionally damage protected computers at PayPal from December 6 - 10, 2010.
The letter allegedly posted by Anonymous follows:
Dear PayPal, its customers, and our friends around the globe,
This is an official communique from Anonymous and Lulz Security in the name of AntiSec.
In recent weeks, we've found ourselves outraged at the FBI's willingness to arrest and threaten those who are involved in ethical, modern cyber operations. Law enforcement continues to push its ridiculous rules upon us - Anonymous "suspects" may face a fine of up to 500,000 USD with the addition of 15 years' jailtime, all for taking part in a historical activist movement. Many of the already-apprehended Anons are being charged with taking part in DDoS attacks against corrupt and greedy organizations, such as PayPal.
What the FBI needs to learn is that there is a vast difference between adding one's voice to a chorus and digital sit-in with Low Orbit Ion Cannon, and controlling a large botnet of infected computers. And yet both of these are punishable with exactly the same fine and sentence.
In addition to this horrific law enforcement incompetence, PayPal continues to withhold funds from WikiLeaks, a beacon of truth in these dark times. By simply standing up for ourselves and uniting the people, PayPal still sees it fit to wash its hands of any blame, and instead encourages and assists law enforcement to hunt down participants in the AntiSec movement.
Quite simply, we, the people, are disgusted with these injustices. We will not sit down and let ourselves be trampled upon by any corporation or government. We are not scared of you, and that is something for you to be scared of. We are not the terrorists here: you are.
We encourage anyone using PayPal to immediately close their accounts and consider an alternative. The first step to being truly free is not putting one's trust into a company that freezes accounts when it feels like, or when it is pressured by the U.S. government. PayPal's willingness to fold to legislation should be proof enough that they don't deserve the customers they get. They do not deserve your business, and they do not deserve your respect.
Join us in our latest operation against PayPal - tweet pictures of your account closure, tell us on IRC, spread the word. Anonymous has become a powerful channel of information, and unlike the governments of the world, we are here to fight for you. Always.
Signed, your allies,
Lulz Security (unvanned)
About the author:
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to email@example.com.
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