I'm sure, by now, Paypal has figured out that Wikileaks isn't illegal - based on all the calls by lawmakers to ban it, if nothing else. Have they restored the account yet?
"Update: After talking to Bedier backstage, he clarified that the State Department did not directly talk to PayPal"
This is starting to look like an attempt at ass covering that backfired badly.
This is looking very, very fishy.
Congress-critters fighting over a microphone are not a useful source of information about the state of the law.
It's actually fairly common for congress critters to say "this shows that we need a law" when there already is such a law. In some cases, they then use the current incident to pass a completly different law.
Only one called their lawyers to ask if it was legal.
It is not. Freezing an account is a safe response to legal documents that have legal force, from a court requesting that this be done Some vague threat by an unnamed bureaucrat should be treated as nothing more than political pressure.
They unwind all the transactions and give the money to the people that originally sent money to Wikileaks, right?
Are you kidding me? That Machiavellian sanity-grinder gave Notch, a legitimate indie developer selling a game about digging through dirt, Hell on Earth just to get his money.
PayPal doing the right thing, snorts I'll sprout wings and shave my eyebrows off first.
I'd sooner trust the IRS to do right by me than PayPal.
Disclosure: My first entrepreneurial effort was annihilated in concert by UPS, PayPal, and eBay.
I replied that yes, you can, and you should not expect rationality or good faith from these people, only savagery. I was down-voted into oblivion. This filled me with confidence, so I donated that very day. Later that afternoon, Paypal caved. Evidently I was the last straw. ;)
What I want to know is, why should harmless fuzz-balls like us have to worry about anything in life? We are but simple people, minding our own business in honest toil, needing only our daily ration of beer and bread. Now if I could just write that with an Irish accent.
All of us little old England are so glad we have never experienced any terrorist attacks before 911
What they did in his situation was entirely justified and I'd personally suggest it was exactly what they should have done. I'm sure there are many times when Paypal have done wrong, but this really isn't one of them.
Paypal has a long history of closing account for arbitrary reasons or for no apparant reason at all. This is especially true of accounts for taking donations (rather than ones selling physical products). If you Google around you can find dozens of people complaining about closed accounts who were taking donations for completely innocuous projects.
By comparison, "because the gov't told us it was illegal" seems like a pretty solid reason. The cost of just paying lawyers to figure out if Wikileaks might actually be breaking any laws surely costs more than Paypal is likely to make in transaction fees.
Maybe they can use some of the money they collect in interest from having money in frozen accounts.
(edited to include more of what I was quoting since it seemed ambiguous as to what I was saying they could do)
At the start of the week the VP probably asks so "how much guarnteed money do we get to play with this week?" and then they get a number and they can do whatever they want, say provide short term loans or invest it some other way.
Just because paypal are frequently rubbish doesn't make it less outrageous.
If I were attacking them, I would target the APIs that merchants use instead of the main site. The main site has probably been DDoSed before, APIs are a subtler target. I imagine a successful attack there would have a broader and deeper impact.
Also, have browsers been used for DDoS before? I imagine with the popularity Wikileaks has, you can ask people to keep a page open if they want to participate, and share that page on Twitter/Reddit/Facebook. The page would repeatedly create requests loading the target urls in an iframe or as a script tag.
In this approach one would have to get rid of the referrer header, I guess. So open the urls using SSL. The SSL handshake would cause additional load.
Not sure how effective would that be compared to a traditional botnet that can delay TCP and SSL handshakes; things browsers can't do.
Also, a double meta refresh is another way to get rid of the referrer beside using SSL.
Ever heard the term 'collateral damage' ? If PayPal gets trashed (or at least significantly service impaired) that is going to hurt people way beyond PayPal. People who are trying (as I am) to keep up with the Christmas/Holiday rush, and wondering why so many orders, paid via PayPal, are not completing.
An attack on PayPal is an attack on the wider business side of the web. Basically PayPal is the guy caught in the middle of a dispute (between Wikileaks/hacker community and the US Gov/Dept of State).
The same argument could be made against a work strike, or a mass protest, or an act of civil disobedience.
There's very few examples in history of important issues being pushed forward in a way that was convenient for everyone.
That's what I meant by broader and deeper impact. If service is impaired for merchants, a fraction of them will switch their payment provider.
I am not arguing this is the right thing to do from moral standpoint btw. This just got me thinking about DDoSes for the first time. Would be interesting to hear what the security experts think.
Well, then they should've stayed out of it. They haven't gotten so much as an official letter (which BTW would be extremely shady since the executive branch doesn't decide what's legal and not). Even if they did, they're under no obligation to do this unless there's a court order. They got involved because of the politics, they can deal with the blowback.
What is happening to you is horrible. I'm sorry.
My point being: if PayPal and others want to play hardball and refuse to shut down their payments because WL aren't criminals, the other side will just up the ante by making them criminals. This is a no-win situation for PayPal and other vendors associated with this CF.
Ironically, the vendors who are voluntarily shutting off WL are probably doing the most to help the cause in the long term by not pushing the matter. WL supporters should really hope for a long spell of lowering the volume and everybody behaving like adults for a while. Probably won't happen, though.
They certainly are instilling terror in US leaders :)
So, as funny as you are, they're pretty close, just no banana.
If it came out, however, that Assange and pals were considering that any civilian casualties they might cause as a key part of their effort to enact change, I might think very differently. So far, happily, that's not the case.
I also think "fear" is a little bit self-congratulatory. Looks to me from watching politicians of every country and party respond, the appropriate phrase is much closer to "pissed off"
Shouldn't the definition of terrorism include the fact that they are violently targeting civilians? Economic or computer terrorism that doesn't actually hurt or kill anyone doesn't meet the definition in my view - and the publishing work or WL definitely doesn't either.
The point is that the use of stealth and fear to purposely sway voters is a deliberate circumvention of the act of an intelligent population making an educated choice by voting.
The actions which may induce this fear are not germane. Ruining commerce for a week, if it causes real harm to economic participants and sways voters, is good enough.
You can release too much information and also interfere, perhaps even scare and cause harm. Using the fact that "it's only the truth" is not enough. It's a red herring. So they are walking a very fine line here, but as far as I can tell they're on the correct side of it. At least as far as the terrorism definition goes.
As much as I dislike Fox News, actually extending the definition of terrorism far enough to include them, and Wikileaks, would dilute the definition to the point of uselessness (or, worse, to the point of including anyone you don't agree with who is trying to induce political change).
I should probably start staying out of the WL discussions here, this is starting to sound too much like /r/politics :(
You are welcome to come up with your own terms -- perhaps you are correct in that the search for terms is political and contentious. Don't know.
I came up with my definition many years ago, because the word "terrorism" is way overloaded. I would encourage you to come up with your own. I do not care what that definition is, as long as it is consistent (And btw, once you get something, I'd love to hear it)
As technologist, I think part of our job in this entire WL issue is to be able to help the average layman understand the issues involved. So -- agreement or not -- we should all think through on our own what our analysis is. As anal as they are, semantics matter.
And no, voluntarily watching a TV news channel does not count as terrorism under my definition, unless it also includes dancing with the stars, which I think should be outlawed worldwide (wink)
I think we can separate advocacy from semantics. If not, then we're stuck in these arguments no matter what we do or try. The issue here is that technology, our bread and butter, is becoming intertwined with just about everything in the entire world. And most of the people and system is it now affecting are completely unprepared to deal with it.
That in itself is a loaded topic... trying to redefine a term is usually either a losing battle (because people won't listen), or an underhanded strategy (because people won't notice). We don't always have the luxury of attaching a glossary to a conversation ;)
The first thing you have to do, if you're programming inside a business, is come to agreement on terms. The initial thing most people try is some sort of dictionary approach, but after a while you end up realizing that a critical part of a project team's work is to create working definitions of common concepts. This is called the problem domain language (insert long talk which includes Ludwig Wittgenstein here) Words mean something because of the semantic web they are presented in. They have no meaning on their own.
So "Customer" or "Account", while sounding like clear terms, are actually the same problem as "terrorism" Unless you come up with (and own) a definition, analysis will be impossible because of contradictions.
Sorry. Slipped into teacher mode.
This is just stuff I do all the time, so I don't have a problem with creating working definitions, no matter what the topic is. I'd much rather be considered an oddball with my own definitions than circling my tail trying to pin down what things like "war" or "terrorism" is. Because if I'm creating my definitions, I can ensure consistency. Can't do that when you turn that job over to somebody else. Language is extremely slippery.
I would not call it "oddball", I would call it either "intentionally misleading" or - granting benefit of doubt - a "misjudgment causing more harm than good".
How about "cyberterrorism", a reasonably established term?
Call it "foo". The point is that I create a symbol that has these attributes. We can then reason about this symbol.
You cannot do this by picking up an already-loaded term and working with it. It doesn't work. So by redefining "foo" or "terrorism" or "cyber-terrorism" or whatnot, you then have to go back to where the old word was used in context and see if it works. In some cases it works. In some cases it does not. You find out all sorts of interesting things by slightly formalizing your language in this manner.
For contrast, the DoD's definition of terrorism:
The calculated use of unlawful violence or threat of unlawful violence to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological.
How could a movie sneak up on a population and play itself to them?
But -- playing a terrorist beheading to a bunch of captives at a local theater could, as long as it caused harm and was purposed to interfere with the democratic process.
Terrorism and WL, although they are not the same (remember I am saying they are not the same), are both "meta" attacks. They don't attack the people, per se, they seek to destroy or change the system of governance the people use to make decisions. This is why the argument that only 2K people were killed while more people die in roadway accidents on 9-11 makes no sense. You don't count up the bodies from one attack or the other. It doesn't work like that. It's not a kinetic fight, or even a fight for land. It's a systemic fight.
Traditionally at least, terrorism has been "the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, esp. for political purposes." [dictionary.reference.com].
What the hell is your definition of 'publishers' then?
Nowhere in the letter does the State Department say that what Wikileaks is doing is illegal. They use ambiguous and misleading language to imply that but in effect they just keep stating that the original leaker broke the law. If anything, by omission of a direct claim of illegality, this letter is confirmation by the State Department that what Wikileaks did was in fact, TOTALLY LEGAL.
Of course, given that PayPal routinely suspends accounts for absolutely no reason at all we can hardly be surprised if they suspend this one. They've always done this and nobody expects more of them.
I don't know USA law that well, certainly not whatever your equivalent of the UK Official Secrets Act is or your counter-espionage laws. But it stricts me as a no-brainer to assume that publishing documents classified by the government as restricted (or above, secret, top-secret, etc.) would be a criminal offence with a pretty hefty jail sentence attached.
Is it really not a crime in the US to publish or hold without clearance documents classified as "secret"?
And here I was thinking you were a man of principles ;)
> If the Internet cheering squad sent them six figures, that would just about cover what it cost to ring legal and schedule, but not actually run, a meeting to decide what to do about this.
I think the French company OVH went about this the right way, the first thing they did upon finding out that they had wikileaks as a customer they went to a judge to get a ruling.
PayPal could have done the same thing easily.
Because this is what your comment suggests, and that's a rather unprincipled statement in my book, whatever your principles are. For example, if Paypal acted by this statement, they would allow payment for porn as long as it was profitable for them.
"Daniel Ellsberg, the man responsible for outing the now famous Pentagon Papers in 1971, and a group of ex-intelligence officers have thrown their weight behind WikiLeaks and its founder, saying the current attempt to label WikiLeaks' leaks as trivial compared to the Pentagon Papers is wrong."
Julian Assange is not a US citizen, is not subject to US law, and did it for the benefit of the World, not the benefit of the US.
These leaks are more than just about the US foreign policy; they're a glimpse into the shady dealings of the "Powerful" all over the world!
Want examples? How about the revelation that Jordan, UAE, Saudis, etc. are urging the US to attack Iran? The details about who ordered the hacking of Google in China? The revelation that rich royals in Saudi Arabia are snorting cocaine, while the average citizens there are caned for showing some skin? Come on! Open your eyes and read the damn things.
This is not the level of discourse I've come to expect from HN. Please, lay off the ad hominem snarkiness.
That's the problem with this WikiLeaks thing, even highly educated, supposedly level-headed people start frothing at the mouth and lose any semblance of rational discourse. There are few moderates and way too many extremists - on both sides.
A US government contractor was running a child sex slave ring in Afghanistan. It's not the Pentagon Papers, but it shows a pattern of behavior that company has engaged in for over a decade.
But the individual leaks aren't the larger goal of WikiLeaks. Addressing the wrongs the leaks uncover is fighting the last war. WikiLeaks is trying to change the system.
The problem isn't with these companies (although I suspect a lot of this is about how everyone already "hates" Paypal) it's with the governments. It saddens me that these companies are being targeted, people should be shouting at the government(s) putting pressure on the companies, not DDoSing the companies.
I'd rather wikileaks had their account closed than the service I receive be affected, however selfish that may be.
This isn't just about government, there is a process, and while corporations are within their legal rights to deny service for whatever reason, that doesn't mean they're acting responsibly.
Especially with a situation as profound as this.
Paypal support millions of people and businesses, is it not their responsibility (as a business out for profit) to look out for the majority and not a single one? If standing up for Wikileaks would cause problems for everyone else is that "fair"? I guess I'm spineless then, if I was Paypal I'd do what they've done here, heh.
But if you just get that phone call? You ask for proof, and you wait until they bring it. And you keep going on as business as usual until you get a court order or similar.
No, the government never put any pressure on PayPal. They just read about it in a newspaper and acted on it. Same with Amazon: some dumb-ass Senator from Connecticut raises a question, and Amazon pees in their pants. So the problem _does_ lie with the companies, for being so scared of the government. Some could even say that they're not doing their fiduciary duty by refusing to do business with WikiLeaks, when WikiLeaks hasn't been convicted of any crime.
I think it's a great loss that HN has degenerated over the last few years' from a place where you could openly discuss a variety of PoVs in a friendly progressive way, to a place where uncivil rudeness is rewarded and opposing PoV are silenced.
I also think it's ironic that in a thread about openness we punish opposing PoVs.
But...I think I might try adopt your philosophy..
1. Karma is almost meaningless. No one cares what your karma is, and there's effectively no reason that you should care either, yet
2. you seem to rely on your karma score in order to validate yourself in some way, so
3. you create a throwaway account to absorb the negative karma of your controversial comments, even though
4. your throwaway account is still you, so the account's score is still a reflection on you, and yet
5. you somehow convince yourself that your throwaway account's karma "doesn't count" in terms of your self validation, thus
6. your philosophy regarding karma is inconsistent, and you might as well adopt a new philosophy.
Just be yourself and contribute from a single account when you have something worthwhile to say, karma be damned. There's no reason to create throwaway accounts or care much about what your "score" on HN is.
The government already discourages some kinds of business through the creation and enforcement of laws. Going beyond that is not the action of "the government", but can only be the action of individuals within the government abusing power to pursue their own beliefs and agenda.
I'd rather that the government be guided by laws than who "they don't like."
That is the real problem here. Even though the SD can't, or hasn't yet figured out how to charge Wikileaks with a criminal offense, they wield their power as a bullying tactic to get what they want.
"Comply, or else ..." is an abuse of power and is exactly what wikileaks was set up to expose in the first place. Even if the SD does succeed in trouncing wikileaks into oblivion, that very act serves to expose how corrupt governments can be.
IMO the argumentation of PayPal is pathetic. They did not even have the balls to admit that they just wanted to stay out of trouble and trying to shift the blame to someone else.
On the other hand, from what I know they don't have much reputation left anyway, so it's a bit of a moot point.
Not telling us to fire them of course - just a 'friendly briefing' of their 'security concerns'
1) Paypal lied to the public.
2) The State dept. effectively ordered content off the web, not unlike China.
3) Paypal hasn't restored service to Wikileaks, even though it's a legal organization.
What a non-answer.
On the other hand, they do have the power to declare organizations terrorists. This is 8 USC 1182, thanks to the patriot act.
But he has not committed a crime in the US. Even if disseminating state secrets is a crime (and the jury's still out on that one, to boot) he didn't do it here.
He's going to pay a big price for his academic experiment. The US government has justifiably killed people over less serious attacks, and citizenship has nothing to do with it. And that's before you get to what has been done without justification (look up Ruby Ridge). When you pick a fight with a giant, you can expect to lose.
The best they have on him are questionably well-timed sex crime charges.
And I'm fairly certain the law is fairly low on the CIA's radar of priorities.