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Visa.com Now Also Down Under DDoS (news.blogs.cnn.com)
242 points by thecoffman on Dec 8, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 256 comments

I'm reminded of the country song whose chorus goes:

"I've got friends in low places."


[1] I agree, as noted by Nathan below, that this isn't helping Wikileaks' reputation any (despite, of course, WL having nothing to do with this). That's the problem with (and sometimes, benefit of) friends in low places -- no one ever accused them of being sophisticated.

[2] A related thought.... The system consisting of [ Person who leaks info + Wikileaks ] seems to be a modern instance of the Robin Hood archetype. Instead of "robbing from the rich to give to the poor," this system takes information from the powerful and gives it to the (relatively) powerless. Just as with Robin Hood, there's room for debate about the moral characteristics of this approach (particularly on the taking side). And just as with every Robin Hood reincarnation, this system is despised by modern aristocrats.

As I believe pg noted in an essay, during the time-setting of Robin Hood, wealth was nearly a zero-sum game. Today, wealth is not zero-sum, but power still is -- making this archetype all the more fitting.

Sadly those friends aren't helping the reputation of Wikileaks. I definitely support freedom and information and the press, but organizing a DDOS doesn't help Wikileaks, it just associates Wikileaks even more with illegal activity.

I think you make the mistake of thinking that all protest activity should be about making friends or increasing your reputation and good standing.

Often it's just as much about hitting back as hard as you can. Now you can argue the merits of that, but we have crossed a major threshold here: The internet has taken down the websites of two of the largest credit providers in the world, two weeks before Christmas.

If that isn't an exertion of grassroots power in the internet age, I don't know what is. The implications are boundless. Visa, and Mastercard probably didn't think twice about canceling Wikileak's payments. I doubt their risk assessment would have been the same if they had known this would result.

Internet? Grassroots?

The Internet hasn't taken down anything. A small group of geeks have taken upon themselves to take down a few targeted websites. No due process, no rule book, no accountability, just naked use of force.

If I'm following correctly, I'm supposed to believe that a staff member of an elected official asking about the activities of a private company is an abuse of power but a small group of unelected geeks representing no one but themselves are to be commended for actively disrupting the activities of a private business.

I'm hesitant to liken Anonymous to revolutionaries but to be honest, almost all revolutions were started in a "small group" that was relatively insignificant (that was unelected), and then grew in size and gathered acceptance.

Again with the due process and rules: do you think when the French people stormed the Bastille during the French Revolution, there was any semblance of rules or accountability? Hell no. It was the "naked use of force". Did it have bad consequences? Some. Did it have good consequences? I think you know the answer.

Agreed, but I'd say an even better analogy is the Boston Tea Party. It was politically-motivated act of vandalism by a small group against a corporation.

History is written by the victors. All this fuss around payment systems and Amazon can remain as act of vandalism by pile of 4channers. I personally think they've chosen the wrong methods.

like trowing tea in the sea is super responsibly and grown up. I also bet it affected more the small businessman than the British gov

bye-bye karma :)

You've stripped away all the particulars in order to equate the overthrow of a multi-century monarchy with disruption of a few websites.

Yes, we've got two examples of 'disputes'. But that doesn't get us very far. Can you finish the analogy for me?

You are suggesting that the DDOS activities are indicative of an attempt to overthrow what in favor of what?

The French Revolution wasn't exactly an orderly process aimed at any coherent attempt to overthrow any particular thing in favor of any other particular thing. In fact, it was a huge mess. Much of the early French Revolution seemed a lot like an attempt to force a constitutional monarchy (like the English Magna Carta did), and a lot of the late French Revolution consisted of self-appointed dictators having people summarily executed, or trying to conquer Europe.

My point was that the properties of this small scale protest (or tantrum depending on however you look at it) that you deride are actually pretty similar to most other protests.

You suggested that it was similar to the French Revolution. In what way is it similar other than they both involved 'protest'? And if that is the similarity you were trying to make, then why confuse the issue by bringing in the concept of revolutionary war?

Is there a French Revolution version of Godwin's Law?

This is the third time in a short period I've seen Godwin's Law used as a way to discount serious discussion online. Are we really so uncomfortable with the concept of metaphor or the importance of remembering and analyzing serious events? We're discussing censorship, freedom, etc and 20th-century history is off limits?

I'm not trying to 'discount' serious discussion, I'm suggesting that comparing DDOS attacks on commercial websites to the French Revolution is not serious discussion.

Reaching for a Nazi analogy or a French Revolution analogy should be done sparingly and with careful consideration.

Now you are suggesting that I'm arguing that 20th-century history is off limits. This sort of wild over-generalization is the antithesis of 'serious discussion'.

Perhaps you think comparisons to something like the French Revolution are unjustified merely because the scope of the current turmoil is nowhere near as wide (yet), but all revolutions have to start somewhere. If the US goes for another two or three presidential elections without significantly affecting the patterns of increasing corporate control over politics and the post-9/11 erosion of civil liberties, we may find it easier to draw such comparisons.

One thing I think we can all agree on: if the next revolution comes any time soon (ie. next few decades), it will start online.

There seems to be a lot of confusion between the Wilkileaks disclosure and the DDOS attacks.

The disclosures can be debated within the terms of government transparency and public policy, but the DDOS attacks were all about a small group of private individuals attacking private companies because they disagreed with how they ran their business.

The two issues are related by a common party, Wikileaks, but other than that they aren't even in the same ballpark. My comments were about the DDOS attacks and not the Wikileaks disclosures. You seem to be talking about the disclosures.

What Wikileaks is doing is called journalism. I wouldn't compare that to revolution, even if they are both rare these days.

What Anonymous is doing is an attack, and its only justification so far is the attempted suppression of Wikileaks' journalism. Suppression of rights like the freedom of the press are among the best justifications for revolution. So, while the current DDOS probably isn't the start of a revolution, it is the kind of thing you would expect to see in the opening stages of a modern revolt in an industrialized society, before things get to the physical violence.

Freedom of the press is about protecting the press from the government. It is not about forcing private companies to run their businesses according to the diktats of small group of anonymous geeks.

Visa and MasterCard cannot act in isolation from the government: They form a duopoly that requires regulation, and they are subject to quite a bit of it. As felixmar pointed out elsewhere in the thread [1], they have gotten favors from the government that have been exposed by the very leaks at issue. It doesn't take actual evidence of a specific request from the government to establish that the government influenced their decision to change their minds about doing business with Wikileaks.

[1] http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1985128

Well wikileaks would not have the problems it does if the government would not have interfered.

The government stepped in and `advised` the private companies that it wouldn't be in their best interest to continue doing business with wikileaks. Even though nothing illegal on the part of wikileaks has been proved.

Taking away the freedom of press doesn't mean shoot the leader in the head and imprison all the rest.

If they manage to isolate you enough , they've succeeded in taking away your freedom.

The parallels aren't that far-fetched. During the early days of the French Revolution, everybody was pissed but no one could agree at what. Everyone wanted change, but no one could agree what that change should look like.

More pointedly, it was a time of great cultural upheaval. A slough of philosophers emerged, each advocating a worldview distinct from, but related to, the other. New ideas began to take hold, and a populace that was previously insulated against the spread of information began to be exposed to new ideas. Rousseau, Voltaire, Diderot and Montesquieu brought new ideas to the national dialogue, while dissatisfaction with the Three Estate system (monarchy, church, everyone else - government, corporations, everyone else) led to widespread unrest. All of this happened during an economic crisis where the irresponsible spending of the French Crown had all but bankrupted the nation.

Have a read for yourself. The parallels are there. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_Revolution#Pre-revolutio...

Also, people were literally starving to death. In the words of my awesome European History teacher, "Happy meals were 18 dollars."

I think that makes a big difference. Nobody is going to start a revolution if they have enough to eat and a place to live.

I should have been clearer on the "20th-century" part, I meant that Godwin's law is used to question analogies to something which happened during the 20th century i.e. not too long ago.

Are you serious? "No due process, no rule book, no accountability, just naked use of force." You defined the terms, and were supplied with the French Revolution as an example.

You were the one who ran that horse into the ground, trying to insert gravitas that was never intended, so stop with the "Godwin's Law" rolling-of-the-eyes.

Gravitas? My 'terms' could be used to describe a bar brawl. There was no attempt to insert gravitas.

This is how lots of protests work, and they get the same criticism.

If one hundred thousand people decide to stop traffic in new york or disrupt the air port in London these are a tiny fraction of citizens (they don't have to be citizens), unelected with no rules. They all might have different ideas about why they are there and it may be impossible for anyone to lead them to stop.

There may be some inherently bad things about mobs, but there is nothing inherently good about them. You could have hundreds of thousands take to the street in support of fascism just as easily as freedom of information.

Worrisome as they are though, chaotic mass protests seem to be an important part of the democratic process.

There is a difference between "peaceful assembly" and targeted disruption of private businesses.

You can't just slap the word 'protest' on any activity in order to justify it.

There is a difference, but not all protest is peaceful assembly. Some of it is disruption of private business.

The Boston Tea Party, for instance, was hardly a peaceful assembly.

The Boston Tea Party was also an attack on private property not just the government.

> No due process

There is some poetic justice in the symbols of American finance the world over being taken down without 'due process' after America has done lots of things without 'due process' the world over.

That said I feel sorry for those that depend on VISA/Mastercard for a living.

For every person that has been killed in Illegal wars, been subjected to torture, extradited without so much as a hearing or simply snatched off the street in Europe or other places in the world 'due process' would have mattered a lot, and that's people we're talking about, whose lives were utterly ruined at the call of a 'small group of politicians' not websites.

I'm not aware of previous grassroots movements being democratically elected. Nobody elected the suffragists, for instance. That's not really how movements work.

OK. But I didn't intend to conflate my questioning of the use of 'grassroots' with my point about accountability.

I think the term 'grassroots' suggests a much more widespread and visible 'movement' than the tiny number of Anonymous members taking part in the DDOS attacks.

Usually a movement is 99% supporters of the cause and 1% activists. You don't think radical actions for transparency is a widely supported movement or widely known?

I think WikiLeaks may hurt some supporters, but I think amongst those sympathetic to the cause - it can only help them increase in numbers, awareness and influence. Hats off to them.

Small note; Wikileaks is not anonymous. The DDOS-en have nothing to do with Wikileaks, the organization.

Are we talking about Wikileaks' disclosures or are we talking about the DDOS attacks?

There is certainly an argument to be made for government transparency but I fail to see how MasterCard, Visa, and Paypal, and so on are the organizations that should be pressured in order to bring about improved government transparency.

And no, I don't think that 'radical actions for transparency' is a widely supported movement and regardless of our disagreement on the term 'widely' I don't think DDOS activities are effective, appropriate, or justified in the furtherance of better government transparency.

I wasn't talking about orgs - but the ethos at the intersection of transparency, internet culture, etc. - which I think must be admitted to have quite an overlap.

I'm using widely to mean between 5% to even 20% of people - perhaps if you briefly talked with them about it. It's not a subject like religion where people are hard fast - I've already talked to many in their 60's who think WikiLeaks is overall doing good things and likes to see "the man" take a hit. Unless you're right-winger who already overuses "treason" in your political discourse - I think there's room for debate on this issue with WikiLeaks gaining some legitimacy.

A small group of geeks have taken it upon themselves to defend a website through the only means they have.

Assange is rapidly becoming a persona non grata in most of the first world countries because he challenges their authority and methods. Wikileaks is being strangled by a DoS on its resources both human and material.

We should all be doing whatever we can with whatever resources we have to prevent Wikileaks from dying. Yes, you can contact your congressman, but honestly, is that really going to do any good? You can speak out and hold protests, but the media will only continue to marginalize your cause or worse, ignore you entirely.

The methods being employed for these DoS attacks are obviously not legal, but what other recourse is there? And as for them being unelected, I will put my voice behind them right now. The people I actually took the time to elect don't give a shit.

There is what is legal and what is right. I will always fight for what is right; legality be damned.

"We should all be doing whatever we can with whatever resources we have to prevent Wikileaks from dying."

It is never right to do wrong for a chance to do right. The ends do not justify the means in this case. Your argument is fallacious in that you can apply that reasoning to everything in life.

No due process, no rule book, no accountability, just naked use of force.

That's a neat description of the actions taken against wikileaks. The USG and its allies have declared war on wikileaks using means both fair and foul, the friends of wikileaks are simply fighting fire with fire.

That is how protests work.

A small group of elected aristocrats single handedly took sites off of the Internet because they didn't like it, even though the content was not illegal and was protected under the First Amendent. "just naked use of force". The difference is, were supposed to be holding the government accountable.

I have no problems. I'd love to see this hurt Visa and Mastercard. Get them and Paypal and Amazon to grow a pair and tell the government that WL isn't doing anything illegal. Is it classy? Is it in the best interest of proper discourse? No. But come on, we're past that point.

Ironically, this will be a major boost to Amazon's Christmas sales, since they don't rely on securecode.

I don't think mass declassification of government documents is a good idea, but...

The government is going after Wikileaks in a similar way that they would go against a terrorist organization (cutting off funding and detaining them without due process). Are the government's actions legal? Are they ethical?

Cutting off funding is an interesting move on the government's behalf, because it seems that any funding would have gone to Wikileaks' legal defense, once someone found something to charge them with (looks like it will be rape).

As far as I know, distributing already leaked classified information is not illegal. (If it is, why aren't Robert Novak and other members of the media in jail?) How would detaining Assange make us any better than China detaining a dissident like Liu Xiaobo?

As an aside: I know Assange is being detained for 'rape,' but the crime we know that he has actually committed, (and presumably the crime for which his funds have been frozen), bears a striking resemblance to "inciting subversion of state power;" which Xiaobo is charged with.

It feels like the government's decision to exercise its power in this way is kind of a desperation move, trying to hold on to its rapidly evaporating secrecy.

And the question is, is this really between the government and Wikileaks anymore, or is it between the government and its citizens?

  > (and presumably the crime for which his funds
  > have been frozen)
Last I checked, they don't freeze your assets when you are accused of rape.

The stuff in parentheses that you cite refers to a crime like the crime of inciting subversion. Why ohyes says "we know he actually committed" such a crime, I don't know.

Should have been 'we know that he committed in the eyes of the government.'

Sorry for being cryptic.

Personally, I thank whatever higher power there is for those people and their actions.

Their actions raise the "censorship costs" those private enterprises (seem to have to) pay from now on upon deciding it is in their best business interest to discontinue customer relations with customers who engage in allegedly illegal activities without investigating the supposed illegality of their customers' actions themselves.

No, what it does is make companies refuse to do business with such customers in the first place.

You do anything not mainstream? Sorry, we won't accept your business.

For companies who provide basic functionalities (hosting, payments, etc.) it's just not feasible to check out a potential customer ex ante - they have far too many customers for up-front checks.

"Censorship costs" refer to ex-post checks on customers on which businesses have received complaints or inquiries from Governmental entities.

I work for a payment company and that simply isn't true. We do in-depth checks on every customer. Risk assessment is a major part of our business.

With payment companies, yes. I think ars is talking about Amazon and Paypal, which don't.

They don't now...but they could easily do it in the future. There is no gray area here. What they did was idiotic.

They have no way of identifying which customers are ddosing them :D

The customer ars was referring to was Wikileaks and potential future customers who engage in non-mainstream political/commercial action. The resulting backlash from the Wikileaks affair will encourage the decision makers at Amazon or Paypal to avoid doing business with non-mainstream customers in the future if there is an even insignificant chance that in the future some non-mainstream customer will offend those in power.

At what point is it OK to use a DDOS attack as a form of protest?

I mean, do we have to wait until they grope us at checkpoints? Checked.

Until they take websites down without trial? Checked.

Until they start accusing journalist of espionage? Checked.

Until they illegally tape the Internet? Checked.

Is there a limit or DDOS is wrong no matter what?

do we have to wait until they...

Who is the "they" that you refer to? I don't think that it's MasterCard nor Visa that did those things.

They is obviously the Government, but with the help of unethical companies: AT&T for taping the Internet, Amazon/Paypal/Visa/Mastercard for suppressing free press, etc.

Not doing commerce with someone is not suppression. It's a peaceful activity. They were never responsible for helping wikileaks or anyone else do anything, so they are not violating an obligation by failing to help. (OK they do have obligations to their customers, but those are governed by contracts which let them cancel service and which they no doubt followed).

Whether you agree with Amazon/Visa/etc or not, it's important to keep clear the difference between their actions (no force involved) and the Government's actions (force involved). It's not all the same thing even if they help accomplish some similar ends.

Good point. The problem with this is that this is exactly the reason why the Government is using companies as proxies for suppressing freedom, because it leaves nobody to blame: (1) the Government didn't really forbid donations to WikiLeaks and (2) the companies can always blame the Government or the law for what they were forced to do.

I don't have the right answer for this and it just makes me sad that our freedom is being eroded incrementally.

It's tricky b/c Amazon (for example) denies that they acted b/c the Govt wanted them to. Are they lying? I don't know. It's really hard to tell. They said Wikileaks violated their terms of service which is no doubt technically true; but I don't know if they would have been happy to overlook it without any Govt pressure.

So even if I wanted to get mad at companies that do the Govt's bidding without being compelled, I don't really know if Amazon is such a company or not.

[Amazon] said Wikileaks violated their terms of service which is no doubt technically true

It's technically wrong since leaked documents, like the Pentagon Papers, are in the public domain, so WikiLeaks does have the right to publish them, contrary to what Amazon said.

The Pentagon Papers were manually put into the public domain when Sen. Mike Gravel (yes, that one) entered them into the Congressional Record.

The trouble is that there is a duopoly in the financial services industry, especially in credit card processing. Cardholders want to pay Wikileaks, Wikileaks wants to receive the money, but they are being restrained by the actions of the duopoly members, and Wikileaks is left with no alternative.

The US has anti-trust laws (15USC1 - see http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode15/usc_sec_15_0...) which cover similar conduct: "Every contract, combination in the form of trust or otherwise, or conspiracy, in restraint of trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, is declared to be illegal".

It sounds like the companies have not admitted a conspiracy with Joe Lieberman to stop Wikileaks from receiving donations - the companies seem to claim to have all come to the conclusion independently - but if such a conspiracy did exist, and was considered unreasonable by the courts, it could be illegal.

Not doing commerce would be, for example, rejecting a new sale or a renewal or such. Cutting existing service is a pretty direct motion.

They clearly did this in response to government pressure, which means they are acting as proxies for intimidation and force. They have a unique power to protect the freedom of humanity, but the people running these corporations have abdicated their responsibility toward their fellow man. They have revealed themselves to be cowardly and complicit, and deserve a lot worse than a few ddos attacks for their actions.

Choosing to not do business with an organization for political reasons is a pretty good example of suppression.

It's hardly peaceful. At best, it is passive-aggressive. At worst, an outright attack on that organization. It can especially be considered such when the company in question is part of one of the world's biggest anti-competitive conglomerations.

this is far from peaceful and force is very much involved:

"Not being able to receive money from the public for a week can cost Wikileaks 7 digit figures in losses, and DataCell as well, as it is unable to process any cards," Fink said.

The suit will be filed in the UK against Visa Europe. The company will file a court case with a request for an immediate injunction "to limit further damage," Fink said.

Wikileaks donations can still be made via wire transfer, but that MasterCard and Visa handle small donations, which make up the majority, according to Fink.

"Wire transfers are good if you want to transfer €10,000, but if you want to pay €10, the costs of the transfer eat up the donation," said Fink. "Visa and MasterCard are vital for the small amount donations, and that's around 99.9 percent of the donations."


If Visa cut off service with Apple, no one would say Visa was using force against Apple unless they violated a contract. If Apple didn't have a contract with Visa with some guarantees in it (for transition time or whatever) that was their own fault.

Everyone making 7 digits or more has lawyers, or should, to deal with such contracts.

Ugh. The person conflates not gaining money with losing money, the same rhetorical trick that the record companies make when talking about piracy.

Not necessarily. If they are consistently pulling in $X per month, then it is reasonable to state that depriving them of service for a month is depriving them of $X (i.e. a good estimate of what they would have made that month).

No. You assume that those that would be donating today will never come back. But it's reasonable to believe that many/most of those people will try again next week.

absolutely. donations = 100% income.

I have a hard time linking "getting out of the crossfire" with "unethical". Spineless? Perhaps. Failing to stand up for some principle? Probably.

But unethical?

The government shouldn't interfere with private transactions without proper cause and due process. When a big business complies with a "polite request" from the government, and that request is the sort that would be illegal and justification for armed rebellion if it were phrased as an order, that business is unethical and colluding with corrupt government.

Failing to stand up for some principle? Probably.

But unethical?

Do you doublethink so?

This is the internal inconsistency that troubles me about this whole WikiLeaks thing. We've railed on companies constantly in the past for being political, and now we're railing on them for not being sufficiently political in our favor.

So which will it be?

This is Amazon, PayPal, VISA, MC, etc, saying "woah hey a dangerously hot potato, not touching that", which strikes me as a more or less neutral stance.

To expect more than that would be expecting a company to make a political stand on one side or another - something we've consistently fought against in the past.

So which is it? Do we want companies to remain politically neutral and leave the democratic process up to real people (as opposed to corporate persons)?

Or do we want them to fight for our cause, and make open political stands? If so, we also have to accept that often they will not be fighting on our side, and each punch they throw will be worth a lot of real people's punches.

When confronted with the situation, neutrality isn't possible: you either stand up for your users or you help the Government to censor.

There's only so much you can avoid taking sides on.

Not all users are created equal. We know this, just as we know that the customer is not always right. None of this is black and white, there is gray across the board.

These are complex decisions being made by complex businesses...why does no single company deserve the benefit of the doubt?

They all do. Everyone deserves it, and it has been given many times. But many companies have broken that trust, repeatedly and gotten away with murder.

I don't think its about the benefit of doubt anymore. I think we have to recognize that the groups on the other side of the power equation are implacable and do not have constraints stopping them from harming you. They have the power to take over your life and do not have any oversight.

Heck I would say that they have evolved to game the system and learnt how to be the best at it.

The original system was not about "the constitution" or freedom, liberty, fraternity or whatever ideal we can point to. It was about distributing power evenly and having checks and balances in the most enlightened way possible.

That power equation IS out of whack, and it needs to be brought back into balance.

At what point do you stop staring at the minute details and say - Crap things are messed up.

When was the last time you heard a company take the long view about society? If corporations don't care because they have a need to make money, if the rule makers have been corrupted and the average user is irrelevant, if the impartiality of the referees/judges is being removed, then who is there to ensure the system works?

As someone pointed out - "I mean, do we have to wait until they grope us at checkpoints? Checked. Until they take websites down without trial? Checked. Until they start accusing journalist of espionage? Checked. Until they illegally tape the Internet? Checked."

Heck you have to get pissed off at some point before you do something about it. Its likely that the point has been passed.

IMHO, "not touching that" is not being neutral - is taking a position against WikiLeaks.

Being neutral would be more like "I'll let they keep doing their thing, like any other business."

"We've railed on companies constantly in the past for being political"

I have no problem with companies being political, my only problem is when they use their disproportionate power to rewrite the laws in a way that screws all other stakeholders. Would Amazon hosting WikiLeaks be a case of a big company using their political influence to rewrite the laws to favor themselves while screwing everyone else? I don't think so, and I don't see any inconsistency.

It's a lot easier to classify what wikileaks does as "exercising first amendment rights" than to classify campaign donations as free speech.

"All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."

> At what point is it OK to use a DDOS attack as a form of protest?

The DDoS may be the net analog to a street protest that provokes a traffic-jam.

I feel the same way.

WikiLeaks (truth and openness in general) has the potential to create trust. But breaking trust to protest doesn't help. Illegality is probably less important if the act of protest is "right".

WikiLeaks denies engaging in civil disobedience - but there is a contrast between non-violent WikiLeaks and "violent" retaliation. WikiLeaks is the underdog, and they will not win by suppression or coercion. Even if these DDOS attacks are only meant as a protest, there has to be a better way to gain attention for the important issues.

At best, it's a distraction, at worst it plays into being labeled as terrorists.

I'm not under the impression 'Anonymous' helps anyone beside itself.


cnn pageviews?

This is probably not representative, but my facebook feed is full of people posting links to news about this with comments that mostly semi-applaud those actions. The interesting thing is that my facebook acquaintances are mostly neither hackers nor Americans.

Do you or the gp have any information that is not into the article ?

I didn't read the "friends" word, only "supporters" and "backers". In what world are supporters friends, and in what world are people responsible for their "supporters" actions ?

It's indeed a dangerous implication, but the original article isn't doing it. You and op are. Why ?

If people, supporters, were to riot about the imprisonment of somebody, would you say that he is responsible ? If no, in what is this case different ?

If you have any information i don't about any direct links between wikileaks and the DDOS attack, it would be nice to share. Otherwise, i fear you are solely spreading your own preconceptions about the situation.

Who besides you is saying that Wikileaks organized the ddos?

Who is DOSing Wikileaks?

It does help Wikileaks in that other companies not as powerful as Visa and Mastercard might think twice before screwing with Wikileaks. Who would want to be ddos like that and lose business?

Essentially what you're saying is that WikiLeaks should adopt or would even benefit from a policy of strong-arming people into compliance so that it can further the cause against evil governments that strong-arm people into compliance.

These companies have already indicated their policy can be strong-armed (ie. "The Justice Department threatened us."). This does show, at the very least symbolically, that their willingest to cave will bring an arm coming the other way.

Can we consider it as Civil disobedience of the modern age?

Garth Brooks for those who were wondering... take a listen here: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-1063893612084739337...

I would not agree power is a zero sum game. Defining it is squishier than defining wealth, and even giving you broad latitude in the definition, I don't think you could come up with much of a proof of that assertion.

Damn you! I avoid piano bars so that I can pretend that song doesn’t exist! ;)

That isn't a piano bar song ... Garth Brooks is more likely heard in some little country bar. The kind of place where it's hard to find a decent chardonnay.

Is it wrong to think of this at a very high level, where basically the internet as an system that relies on information to function properly has turned on its immune system?

I know this is a very meta idea, and its extremely easy to break this down to the component entities (Visa corporation, thousands of individuals, etc). But under the meta concept, wouldn't that be like individual t-cells talking to each other?

It's not crazy at all. The natural state of the universe is constant change, and the only things that remain in existence for any amount of time are those that have forces to resist change. The reason all our atoms don't just fly apart is that there are forces pushing them back every time they try. And the reason social systems exist is that they push back every time something tries to fuck with them.

For example, right at the height of the holocaust the Albert Hoffman discovers the psychoactive properties of LSD, a drug that changes the social values of any population that uses it. The fact that LSD took over society right after the holocaust isn't a coincidence; that there were more scientific papers published about LSD than any other topic shows that something was seriously wrong with society and society was pushing back.

In the same way, the very fact that WikiLeaks exists is evidence of the corruption of our current system. And the reason it continues to exist is because WikiLeaks itself is developing the ability to fight back when attacked. What Anonymous is doing is the result of an infinitely complex series calculations that are ultimately being done to maintain social homeostasis.

edit: Newton's first is an inside job. Life is entropy. :-)

Typically the internet has been referred to as 'routing around' things like sites being taken down or things like the AACS encryption key being banned. I don't see it as too far a leap to say its an 'immune response'. But I think perhaps its more than that, because (unlike cells) all the individuals taking part are communicating a detailed intent.

Interesting. And, like skynet, you can't switch it off.

Until we're hit with a coronal mass ejection; that would do a pretty good job of killing pretty much all advanced technology.

I guess you could equate it to a certain level of DID/Schizophrenia - but that concept is still too one-dimensional to truly apply, as we are talking about very critical layers of a civilization here.

The analogy drawn with immune system/cognitive issues assumes that the internet is a homogeneous whole (all participating parties are interdependent upon each other) - which they aren't.

I'd more liken it to a neighborhood gang war: all parties rely on underlying infrastructure (the streets==DNS/connections, power etc) but can attack eachother.

Aside from blowing up the streets(DNS/physical layer) this akin to two (or more) of the neighborhood gangs in a fight. You just cant hold a conversation with CC while he's getting pummeled. Yelling at him only makes matters worse.


Though to go back to your meta definition of the internet turning on itself - thats kind of what information does; lies are destroyed by facts. In this case - we have wikileaks releasing facts which destroy the lies upon which public perception has been built. This is a good thing, albeit painful. In much the same way a cheating partner in a previously happy relationship would be. It sucks to find out, and you have emotional strife - but in the long term it is good to dissolve the relationship which is not based on real trust.

I like the thought, as another put it her, that this raises the cost of censorship greatly. Wikileaks may be the only recourse we have against corruption in entrenched systems which are far too slow to change.

While there is information that is important to keep secret - I think we've seen that there is too much risk in giving government carte blanche as has been evidenced for many many many decades.

Our archetypes of governing should evolve much more quickly in the modern era, we should take the evolutions of thought and innovation that we are experiencing in the technology and scientific areas of humanity and apply them to other aspects of our civilization and then we might see some real progress.

It would be great to apply Moore's Law here such that we can get over all this petty bullshit, become self sustainable and begin to colonize outside this beautiful planet before we destroy it, and ourselves.

So I'm some average merchant, anywhere in the world.

Because of this action, Now I can't make money and support my family.

Aside from your personal feelings, what are the odds I blame Visa, and what are the odds I blame Wikileaks? All of a sudden Visa doesn't work, MasterCard doesn't work, some sites can't be accessed, sometimes the net is slower than it should, etc.

Maybe I'm smoking crack, but from where I sit, the more hackers thrash out over WL, the more ticked millions of people are going to become at both Wikileaks and the hackers involved.

This is a very sad development. People of all opinions need to take an active hand in trying to settle this down as quickly as possible. This is no good for anybody. No good can come from this.

EDIT: If you want to support the idea of leaking to fix governments (and not the massive attack of government nodes through information overload), which I do, then WL needs a standard of conduct: what it will and will not publish. It needs a standard of acceptable behavior: what cyber protests are in line with it's mission and what protests are not.

Without these things, I can't support WL, they're going to lose track of their message and the larger media narrative, and they are going spectacularly shoot themselves and the rest of us in the foot. This is becoming dangerously nihilistic.

    So I'm some average merchant, anywhere in the world.

    Because of this action, Now I can't make money and  
    support my family.
Actually, as an average merchant, you are interfacing to back end Visa systems, indirectly through the payment processing network via your POS terminal or through the software backing your online shopping cart.

As far as I have been able to see, these attacks haven't done anything to the back end systems. Commerce continues as normal.

Considering the volume the credit card processing system handles, especially during the holidays, could Anonymous get enough people to even make a noticeable bump in traffic if they were to go after the back end systems?

They can successfully go after a front end web site like visa.com because it is not a high volume site. Alexa.com ranks visa.com at around #3000 in the US, #10000 in the world.

As an average merchant you wouldn't have any reason to care about the ethical actions of large companies like VISA unless you were affected. These types of actions (right or wrong) force you to care.

In fact, this is one of the core principles that America was founded on through the symbolic Boston Tea Party and beyond.

I think the real point of these things, though its likely that the intentions of many participants differ, is to simply bring these issues to light to the common person.

> force you to care

I prefer to live in a world where people don't force me to care about things but persuade me through reasoned discourse.

Won't happen. Even if you don't like it when groups such as Anonymous force it on you, the State has mechanisms for you to care as well, many of them highly undemocratic.

I'm thankful that there's a balancing agent on the other end of the spectrum. Even if I disagree with it, it helps to distribute power.

> Won't happen.

I don't assume a paradigm of force. Sure it exists, but I don't assume it has to be that way. I'm not naive but I also know that people and organizations often do have the capacity to interact on a higher level; but it takes a lot of insight to see how. I don't assume the low road is the only one available.

I don't assume it has to be, but that's the way it's been through all of human history, and I'm guessing we're several thousands of years away from that changing.

Unfortunately the laws of physics prevent that world from ever existing; data is growing exponentially whereas time and attention are limited.

But you can grab my attention in a way that doesn't involve an attack.

I am talking about the effect of these things. You are talking about the point of these things.

They are not the same.

Gosh, you're right. How is something as theoretical as "free speech" important in the face of minor inconvenience?

Gosh, how does attacking 3rd parties advance the cause of free speech? Will the payment processors suddenly see the error of their ways? Will the U.S. State Department accept WikiLeaks as a legitimate news organization? No, DDoS will not solve your problems. It will just piss people off and conflate WikiLeaks' questionable behavior with blatantly illegal behavior.

As DanielBMarkham pointed out, it makes people notice.

It raises the cost for payment processors to do what they did. They typically respond to economic incentives. (in other news, it looks like they did see the error of their ways: http://thenextweb.com/media/2010/12/09/caving-to-pressure-fr... )

The U.S. State Department won't care as a result of these activities.

DDoS doesn't solve problems, but it can achieve goals.

It probably will piss people off and it's not the best way to do things.

How are the credit card companies third parties after they have taken unusual action against Wikileaks before the Wikileaks people or organization have even been charged with a crime in the US, let alone convicted? Since they clearly cannot justify their actions as being in response to legal action against Wikileaks, it means that they are personally taking a stance against Wikileaks.

Yes, absolutely. We've seen this sort of inconsideration time and time again. Think about all the families and businesses affected by the sudden lack of tea on December 16, 1773.

A) It raises publicity. Keeps the story going, this is a front-page story tomorrow, and that story will include the fact that Visa and MC cut off donations to wikileaks without so much as an official letter sent.

B) If I'm some average merchant, I absolutely blame Visa. If they don't find a way to make me happy, I'll look at taking my business elsewhere. Might not be an option in that particular market but generally, yeah, they have to try to make it up to their customers.

> Because of this action, Now I can't make money and support my family.

The same can be said about real world strikes which stop services or brick and mortar businesses.

> Because of this action, Now I can't make money and support my family

No. Not true.

On top of this, as a merchant who is affected by this, I do blame Visa and MC for allowing their system to so easily be affected by something like this.

Since payments were affected it is not WikiLeaks I blame but rather MasterCard and Visa. You know why? They set their systems up in a way that allowed them to be exposed to a massive DDoS which could have happened at any time. They did not follow the proper guidelines as some of the largest companies in the world to make sure their systems would be unaffected by various possible scenarios including DDoS attacks.

This doesn't affect the payment gateways AFAIK, only their front-facing websites.

It has affected the payment gateways today, via their '3D-secure' schemes.


What this whole wikileaks payment processing issue has made me aware of is how bottle-necked this whole area is.

A client of mine a couple of years ago selling personal protection equipment (smoke & hazmat masks, mostly). They were based out of Australia and selling globally. Apparently they breached some US advertising restriction with one of their products (disposable hygienic suit) by having the words bird flu in the description.

Simultaneously to contacting (apparently they tried to contact earlier during US work hours), they contacted paypal and had the account shut down entirely. The US was never a major market so they put a big red sign on the product page: "Not for Sale in the USA." Getting paypal back online took weeks. Whatever department shut them down was not concerned with reversing the damage and paypal seemed like they knew which side to stay on.

Basically, paypal (and apparently visa & mastercard) is the on/off switch that various players within the US government can use. It does not take a high level one off phone call. This is an issue.

Considering that the Jesus was the original revolutionary and one of his major acts was throwing the money changers out of the Temple, I am stunned about the internalized commercialization of Christmas and the comments that put into question the current protest.

And I am saying this even though I hate DDos viscerally, my business was a victim of such an attack. But I have to say, as long as no one gets killed or injured this is a legitimate form of protest.

On the other hand, the pagans whose rituals were plagiarized as christmas by the inventors of christianity were not above sacrificing money and other valuables, so I guess it's back to the old school.

DDOS attempts that utillize illegal botnets are, well, illegal. As such, they are by definition not a legitimate form of protest.

A revolution doesn't ask from a permit for a city hall. Seriously, I have seen many demos banned arbitrarily for the lack of a "permit".

>A revolution doesn't ask from a permit for a city hall.

One of the best quotes ever!

If it is a revolution, then it is by definition illegal, and by univocation, illegitimate. It may be the 'right' thing to do, but it is not 'legitimate.'

legitimate != legal


legitimate protest vs. legal protest are very very different things.

That may be true, but is THIS an illegal botnet? What makes LOIC illegal? What makes a determined, coordinated request from thousands of volunteer computers illegal? I liken this to a civil disobedience sit in.

Without commenting on the morality of LOIC, what makes its current use illegal are laws, passed by legislatures.

Pick a jurisdiction and you'll find some law forbidding DDOS attacks. Here for example:


That section would cover anyone from NSW participating in this botnet and could be used to prosecute this guy if they find him:


A DDoS is nothing like a sit in. Its more like forming a human chain around the restaurant.

The crux of civil disobedience is that moral men have a duty to break unjust laws. This is not civil disobedience.

LOIC itself isn't illegal but causing a DDoS is, however you achieve it.

There's an assumption there that "illegal == illegitimate". I don't believe that is true. No more true than "legal == legitimate".

Please look up words in a dictionary before you correct people on their meaning, you will seem like less of a fool for doing so. Legitimate and legal are synonyms.


Sigh. Did you even read the link you posted? Yes, one of the definitions has to do with laws, but there are plenty of other meanings that don't have anything to do with legailty. Eg: "not spurious or unjustified; genuine"

You know what is "illegitimate" is for a service that is a virtual "utility" do cut off service for political reasons. Imagine someone would cut off your electricity if they think your ideas a dangerous.

Most of the people at Anonymous run the DOS attacks on their own computers, not through botnets.

I'm sure there are some script kiddies with botnets there, but I don't think the average Anonymous/4Chan member has one.

> illegal == illegitimate form of protest

I'm having some great laughs at everyone here on HN that has never have read a bit about the history of protest movements and labor unions in the US.

The only legitimate forms of protest are the ones that will never work.

I wonder how much money Visa and Mastercard have to lose before they regret their decision.

For the attackers, instead of positioning the DDOS attack as revenge, you should give them as an easy-out. Stop blocking wikileaks and we'll stop the DDOS. Since Visa/Mastercard are loosing millions of dollars for each hour they are down, it would turn the issue into a simple business decision and they could change their position without losing face.

They won't change their position. A recently leaked cable shows why: US 'lobbied Russia on behalf of Visa and MasterCard' [1]. Quid pro quo. They cannot afford to lose the support of the US government.

[1] http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/08/wikileaks-us-rus...

Oh, oh the irony.

There's another point of view on this story, which is, shortly put, "we don't negotiate with terrorists".

I thought it was allegedly the terrorists motives to destroy the things we love - peace, democracy, rule of law etc. It seems rather ironic that the US state department is strong arming companies to its will in a draconian way rather than actually playing by the law or you know using that funny Democracy word and enacting a new law so they can actually play by the fucking law.

All I see recently is our government pulling the terrorist card to do an action that is in essence terrorism by our governments definition. Given that our governments fucked the definition of terrorism now that it no longer means to incite terror but means to oppose us - us being the government.

Here in Canada we're still finding out the list of laws the government broke during the G8 and G20 summits. Not to mention the government was actually misinforming people to get them to think they were complying with the law (providing ID around the checkpoints, not just while passing through) when they really were being coerced into volunteering information.

I'm sorry but I'm calling this "war on terror" as a terrorist win, cause they're not only in our governments but are our governments.

Who's the terrorist in this situation? Its wrong to immediately put Visa, Mastercard, Paypal, and other related parties into the "right" side and to put the people behind the DDoS attacks into the "wrong" side. They are not victims, but instead are attacking Wikileaks by cutting off their ability to get funds. Who's right in this situation?

Visa is a private company. If they are wrong, it's wrong in the same way as Apple's app store policies -- you can object to them, compete with them, complain about them, even jailbreak your phone, but you'd definitely be wrong to DDoS the app store website b/c your app was rejected.

Visa isn't attacking anyone when they reject customers for any reason, just like Apple isn't attacking anyone when they reject apps. Attacking is the wrong word. It's refusing to cooperate with, even "discriminating against" (but not the various illegal types like racism or sexism), being unfriendly to, maybe "being a jerk", whatever, but there is no attacking when a business makes legal business decisions, especially one that they think lots of their customers would prefer (Why else would they do it? I'm guessing Visa is run by soulless bureaucrats just trying to make money and keep their jobs and they don't care about having a political agenda).

You said : Why else would they do it ? And someone above posted this link : http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/08/wikileaks-us-rus...

Visa and Mastercard are different from Apple because they did what they did when the government stepped in.

That can be debated, but from the perspective of the decision makers at Visa, Mastercard, and Paypal - who would presumably be the ones saying "we don't negotiate with terrorists" - the terrorist is obviously Anonymous.

I don't say that visa, paypal and mastercard are right, I say that's how they perceive the situation and what they will probably say to public in press releases.

Showing weakness by negotiations with the Legion is inappropriate for them in given circumstances.

> I wonder how much money Visa and Mastercard have to lose before they regret their decision.

You make the assumption they are losing much. We use 3DS, and are still processing, just not using 3DS.

I find outrageous that compagnies like VISA or MASTERCARD take the right to forbid people to do what _THEY_ want with _THEIR OWN_ money.

Please continue the DDOS until they bankrupt.

But you're missing a huge point here. Visa and MasterCard don't have a responsibility to allow you access to their networks.

This is akin to arguing that your free speech rights are infringed upon when a moderator removes your comment on their board.

I think your analogy is flawed in this case. Government-enforced monopolies have an implicit social responsibility to abide by social norms when conducting business. This is more akin to a subway refusing to carry a newspaper publisher because of something they published.

To the extent that a refusal of service violates social norms this creates a legitimate grievance in the absence of reasonable alternatives because of public policy.

To me, the fact that Visa / MasterCard are in a heavily regulated (and to some extent, subsidized) industry is a separate issue. Perhaps the government should have less influence on these card associations, but the fact remains that they are still private entities.

Perhaps my analogy was not quite accurate, but I think your analogy goes too far on the other side. A subway is wholly owned by, and operated under, the budget of a government.

I understand, and sympathize with 12341sa's outrage, but his comment implies I have a right to purchase goods using a Visa or MasterCard.

I'm not arguing that you have the right to a credit card. But you should not be discriminated against on grounds that violate the social compact. Otherwise, your argument suggests it would be legitimate for Visa and Mastercard to refuse to process donations for specific political parties or politicians. Or for Paypal to close the accounts of people who vote.

I think most people would accept that there is a fundamental right to engage in peaceful trade. And just thinking of the issue practically, there are far more ways for someone denied access to the subway to get to their destination than there are ways for people to collect money remotely without access to the banking infrastructure and credit transfer services.

If the government was making calls to message boards, asking them to remove my comments, I might be suspicious that my free speech rights are being infringed upon.

I might suspect this even before I hear that the government is lobbying for those specific bulletin boards being excluded from pending Russian regulation.

AFAIK (and I may be off here), the government has not officially requested that any entity take negative action against Wikileaks.

The implied threat that action may be taken against them is there, and individual representatives have spoken out against Wikileaks, but I do not believe the government has officially asked / demanded for third parties to cut ties with Wikileaks.

You don't think the right way.

This is a hold up because: - Your bank provides you a service: credit/debit card, they have to because you are their customer. - Visa provides a service to your bank

Visa and Mastercard have a responsability to allow your bank access to their networks. To whom the money goes is none of their business.

Is this really an attempt to support free speech with a DDOS? Or is there some sort of meta/irony motivation here?

I think MasterCard/Visa is just a nail to 4chan's hammer, is all. DDoSing is all they know how to do (except exposure of personal details for public harrassment).

That said, I'm sitting back with my popcorn here. I just imagine guys in some boardroom saying, "4 what now?" Heh.

Damn, it's usually safe to read HN with something in your mouth... [gets napkin]

Okay, you know what you do? You buy yourself a tape recorder, you just record yourself for a whole day. I think you’re going to be surprised at some of your phrasing.

He means the grandparent made him laugh so hard, he spit out the food he was eating. It's a compliment, not a criticism.

It's a quote from Arrested Development. You should check it out if you haven't seen it, it's on netflix and hulu.

Thanks for the reminder! I was just saying the other day how I still missed it so long after its TV run, I had quite forgotten that one.


I've gotta say, I didn't even notice the double-serving hilarity of the phrasing before the parent pointed it out.

This doesn't really have to do with speech. Visa/Mastercard perceives that dropping Wikileaks is a cost-free way to detach themselves from the situation. This makes it costly again.

4chaners do it because: a) They can b) It correlates with their vision of justice

There is definitely a healthy dose of performance art (maybe political theater is a better word) involved in the process - it's certainly not viewed purely as form of protest - at least not by all participants.

Is DDOS'ing wikileaks really an attempt to stop free speech? Is capturing a journalist due to condom breakdown really an attempt to stop free speech?


The attack on MC supposedly took down SecureCode affecting those payments... Seems like Visa's equivalent, Verified by Visa is still up:


I just tried that link and it timed out. Perhaps its intermittent?

That link is down for me, actually.

Unless things have changed or my memory's not so good, Verified by Visa's servers are operated by multiple individual banks and payment processors (or entities acting on their behalf) -- there isn't a single point of attack.

And -- again, IIRC -- VbV or SecureCode aren't necessary to the successful completion of an online transaction. Taking down these services would frankly be a favor to consumers, as 3D Secure is an extra step that they don't need.

Does anybody have any details on the the technical side of these attacks and what happens when anon decides to fire all phasers at a target? My impression is of a loose group of individuals herding a diverse range of botnets and attacks which they bring to force on command from an agreed upon leadership (or a target consensus is reached)?

Are they using the latest bunch of 'best-practices' to take down a site? (e.g. slowloris, UDP flooding, DNS or TCP amplification, TCP SYN attacks, whatever is flavour of the month)

With all the fluff and the bluster being written about them I haven't seen a good technical analysis so I'd love to hear any info you might have.

It's not surprising to me why the shutdown of Wikileaks donation channels, as opposed to TSA or any of the other civil liberties breaches, triggered such rage.

The answer is simple: People get fucking pissed when they can't spend their money where they want to.

And it holds throughout history.

Retaliation over the internet is easier and safer, and the credit card companies were one of the few targets that is vulnerable to attack over the web.

(Here's to hoping somebody develops a virus to brick backscatter x-ray machines.)

Rumor has it the next target is Authorize.net (I assume not because anything they did but because that's how you actually take down the ability for Visa and MC to function). That would be quite dramatic to say the least.

Can you substantiate that rumor? Taking down Visa.com isn't really a huge deal, but taking down Authorize.net would actually affect a lot of merchants.

I wonder why they don't get payment gateway IP's from shops, surely some of them work in them, and DDOS those. Maybe too much heat because Visa and MasterCard would lose millions per day and people would lose the ability to pay with their cards?

Seems like right now target is Amazon. See http://twitter.com/Op_Payback

I should point out that Visa itself hasn't actually decided to stop payments to WikiLeak- only Visa Europe, its subsidiary. The people that run Visa.com are only responsible for selling Visa Europe the rights to use the name.

There are so many active topics on the DDoS's happening today. I now wonder. What happens if Anonymous wins? If, under the pressure, Visa gives and succumbs to their wishes? What happens then?

Then we can use visa.com to donate to wikileaks, and it establishes a precedent that it is okay for private companies to never censor their customers, even if the government thinks the customer is dubious.

Both Visa and MasterCard are down. This just shows how fragile the internet is and how 'easy' is to shut down the entire economy and system.

The point is that coordinated attack by terrorists or plain old criminals can cripple the entire world's economy and there is no easy and effective way to prevent it.

We do need to think about how internet can be re-organized to be 100% distributed system to prevent this of happening again.

You almost identified the problem correctly.

Internet is already distributed. The attacks against Visa and MC are also distributed. But Visa and MC are not. They are single points of trust for our financial transactions.

A more distributed system, where a web of trust and transaction system exists, could be used. But such a thing hasn't been invented yet.

I thought about it some last year, but such a system is hard to design. I did design several prototypes, but they had lots of problems. It also involved changing the structures of presumed governmental financial structures ("central" bank for example, is also a single point of trust).

So I think, the rephrasing of the problem should be: We do need to think about how our financial systems can be reorganized to be 100% distributed systems to prevent future abuses by anyone, including governments.

The internet is distributed. How else could you post to this site while VISA and MasterCard are pounded into the ground?

Have you tried to pay for groceries with your Visa or MC today? They work just fine.

Good luck to anyone with shutting down economy.

Looks like they're redirecting it to USA.visa.com

Looks like Paypal is down too. Well only the server that redirects you to the secure page.

Just use the full path "http://www.paypal.com or "https://www.paypal.com

We took down Chevron by spray painting over one of the signs at a gas Station. CHEVRON IS DOWN!!!!!

About the same time you posted, I was using PayPal. It was working, but I did notice signs of slow response. I was able to do everything I needed. My impression is that the PayPal engineers are dealing with the issue.

DDoS strikes me as a violent form of protest.

Has anyone started a non-violent protest (offline or digitally) for WikiLeaks?

EDIT: Rethinking my statement on DDoS as violent. I am still interested in knowing if there are other non-DDoS protests surrounding WikiLeaks.

I don't think DDoS is violent at all. It doesn't physically hurt anyone, and it doesn't damage the property of people who aren't involved in censoring Wikileaks.

Nonviolent protest doesn't need to just be complaining. Everyone does that, and it doesn't get anything done unless you're a millionaire. Passive resistance is generally economically disruptive to whoever it's targeted at.

DDoS attacks are not all that different, conceptually, from sit-ins. You're not destroying their server or deleting their code. You are simply putting yourself in the way so that no one else can use their website. It's not a nice thing to do, it interferes with their ability to do business, and it's illegal, but it's not violent.

The comparison to sit-ins is an interesting case I hadn't considered until reading further comments.

On a technical level DDoS certainly seems equivalent to a sit-in. I will have to think on this a bit more.

Illegal? Certainly.

Immoral? Debatable.

Violent? No.

What sort were you thinking? Perhaps a distributed candlelight vigil?

I'm a Ghandhi-ist myself, so I'm fascinated.

Sounds incredibly boring. Just saying.

I pity the poor sys-admins whose pagers are interrupting their late-night hacking. Visa & MC probably don't care at all (they're swimming in plastic money!), its the front-line guys that are feeling this the most!

Does this actually hurt visa? Wouldn't visa.com just Be a showcase type website eg "hey here's what visa is, here are some ringtones you candownload"

I'd imagine all their transaction processing happens elsewhere.

> I'd imagine all their transaction processing happens elsewhere.

Yes, a good portion happens through https://verified.visa.com

Which, you'll note, is also down. This is real.

Really though? Wouldn't that be the Verified by Visa program, which not all online commerce sites use? Or do they process all transactions through that site?

CapitalOne account center is down for me; I was trying to log in to access a Visa card. Coincidence? I have no idea why they'd be synchronously connected, but odd timing.

You have to think that paypal is also being attacked, in that case I am pretty impressed that they are managing to stay up while mastercard and visa get sunk.

And I haven't even seen any comments on the possibility of this being a smear campaign to tarnish Wikileaks further in the media?

I'm just saying, if you wanted to completely discredit an organization what's the fastest way to go about doing so?

Step 1: Manufacture accusations against it's founder for which there is no defence, where the individual is guilty before a trial even begins. Oh, I don't know, how about accusing a man of a sex crime? (Especially a funny looking foreign one!)

Step 2: Manufacture scary "hackers" who do scary "hacker" things. Hide your children!

Step 3: Let CNN and Fox do what they're paid to do. Spin and spin and spin.

A smear campaign seeding 4chan with fake posts, and orchestrating a LOIC attack?

They had all day to prepare for this and they failed?

edit: up for me, at least.

Unless someone reputable stands out and make a statement, no one could be sure if this act is associated with WikiLeaks. Period.

I'm sure it's the US government! Or... not.

Turns out that DDoS is a dime a dozen today, they don't necessarily mean anything.

Better attack: reduce the credit card usage, and try to pay more with cash. Spread the word.

Finally something has pissed off enough geeks. I thought the government's lack of respect towards due-process, the systematic breakdown of basic freedom or the massive wealth transfer to the rich via dollar printing/bailout would've done it.

V for Vendetta.

> massive wealth transfer to the rich via dollar printing


Expanding the money supply diminishes the value of those holding the current money, such as those with savings and fixed income. We bailed out banks and other big companies, it's not like we started up the printers to enrich the needy and poor. Inflation is rising, jobs are dwindling, credit is unavailable yet dirt cheap.

Price inflation hurts savers and helps those with debt. Unless you're saying the poor have savings and the rich are in debt this would seem to help the poor and hurt the rich.

Wealthy people generally don't have most of their assets in cash, but rather in diverse investments with a better rate of return, at a minimum TIPS. But there are also advantages (tax etc.) to debt financing of things even if you are wealthy enough to buy things directly.

Inflation does lessen the burden of debt, but you would have to have huge of debts for the payoff of inflation to be worth it (which is true for the government). Lets say a poor person has $3k in debt, if the cost of living increases they would be less likely to service the debt, while accruing more interest on the debt.

There still doesn't seem to be a "massive wealth transfer to the rich" in there

Previous comment was explaining inflation doesn't help the poor, this is pretty non controversial. The transfer of wealth would be the fact that we bailed our companies that made stupid risks because they were greedy, and the only way to fix it was to give them gobs of cash. These gobs of cash are simply printed, contributing to inflation, while keeping greedy banksters employed. We saved the wealthy while subjecting the rest to inflation.

1) The bailout consists of loans

2) When a loan from the Fed is repaid, the "printed" money ceases to exist, so slightly more money is ultimately destroyed. The "gobs of cash" are not "simply printed".

3) There is no evidence of either price or monetary inflation actually occurring, as both price levels and the money supply tends to contract along with economic contraction

4) "bailed our companies" != wealth transfer to the rich

Printing dollars is figurative, I'm aware you don't have to print money to add imaginary money to an imaginary money supply, we have computers. Printing money is symbolic of more money going after less resources because of fiat currency (you can't print a loaf of bread). If banks got more money to go after less resources, this came at the expense of someone elses purchasing power at the time. Nothing is free, Bernanke didn't find perpetual energy, and "printing money" has its effects - namely being the business cycle.

V for Vendetta



V for Vendetta starred Natalie Portman, Hugo Weaving, and Steven Fry. It was a mainstream Hollywood movie which took over $132 million at the box office. It was a Warner Bros film, a subsidiary of Times Warner which is "the world's second largest entertainment conglomerate in terms of revenue (behind Disney and ahead of News Corporation and Viacom), as well as the world's largest media conglomerate".

Your dreams of anarchism were manufactured in a bottle and sold to you on a silver screen.

Grow up.

(Edit: as acknowledged below, the final 'grow up' is a bit snarky. Sorry, that's withdrawn)

Yes, and 1984 is a book which has sold over 25 million copies for a publisher which is now an imprint of Random House which is owned by Bertelsmann (2009 revenue €15b).

That doesn't diminish its value as a work of art or as a cultural reference point.

Down-voted, not because I disagree with you (though I do), but rather down-voted for being both snarky and cliched. Your comment would have sat better without the "grow up" there at the end.

Fair enough. It was a bit snarky. I withdraw it.


""" V for Vendetta is a ten-issue Graphic-Novel series written by Alan Moore and illustrated mostly by David Lloyd, set in a dystopian future United Kingdom imagined from the 1980s about the 1990s. A mysterious revolutionary who calls himself "V" works to destroy the totalitarian government, profoundly affecting the people he encounters. Warner Bros. released a film adaptation in 2006. """

V for vendetta is a ten-issue Graphic-Novel series written by Alan Moore and illustrated mostly by David Lloyd. In writing V for Vendetta, Moore drew upon an idea for a strip titled The Doll, which he had submitted at the age of 22 to DC Thomson.

Oh I knew everyone would say "But it was a graphic novel". Bar humbug. Anonymous all wear plastic masks from the movie at protests for a start.

Maybe I'm remembering it wrong, but I'm pretty sure that the masks were in the graphic novel too.

There are of course those who do not want us to speak. I suspect even now, orders are being shouted into telephones, and men with guns will soon be on their way. Why? Because while the truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power. Words offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth. And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn't there? Cruelty and injustice, intolerance and oppression. And where once you had the freedom to object, think, and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillence coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission. How did this happen? Who's to blame? Well, certainly there are those more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable, but again truth be told, if you're looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror.

A co-worker Engineer just went down to get frozen yogurt. They couldn't process his card. Apparently they route transactions through their domain DNS?

Suddenly corporate powers don't seem as strong. It's amazing how vulnerable something man made is.

I'm assuming thats a coincidence. I cannot imagine Visa's payment processing infrastructure is coupled to its web infrastructure in any way. That would be monumentally bone headed.

Indeed, as I remember setting some payment stuff up at my parents business a while back-- you can get a gateway setup that uses their web interface to process transactions.

That was a while back, but maybe they have legacy systems.

Either way, they are loosing money one way or another =/

A Taco Bell I frequent uses a VPN back to the franchisee to aggregate the card payments. Wouldn't surprise me if that's getting messed with as well.

This is a weird subject because it is totally dual sided.

1) It promotes freedom of speech and taking action as a community to promote change.

2) It is completely illegal which goes against the laws and freedoms they are trying to promote.

Right Idea - Wrong Method

It's the same as with any uprising really. You can't expect people to follow laws when they are made by the "enemy".

That so many people are willing to break the law when taking action shows how important the issue is to them. It also suggests that there is no other effective way to take action.

I have a problem there with "so many people" and "no other effective way". Blocking my payments is very effective way to piss me off indeed, not sure what good it brings otherwise.

I am still amused how quickly critical thinking switches off in many people. After initial categorization "wikileaks is good, government is bad" not much effort goes into actual considerations, how is it good, what good did it bring, etc.

Governments suck, uh oh, what a news. Maybe it will be a news to some, but we do elect governments. I guess it is easier to enjoy some braindead DDoS than go to elections, put some more thought whom to elect and make sure those elected are responsible for their work as officials.

Now it looks like governments were brought by some aliens and just forced on us. Demanding responsibility from the government is very good, how about taking some responsibility of the governments we have?

And that's where I have a problem with wikileaks: at least I can imagine that I had some say in what people do rule my country, so I can claim a bit responsibility for the power they have.

Wikileaks on the other hand is self-proclaimed savior, responsible to whom?

> we do elect governments

This is just not accurate in any meaningful way. I don't elect my government, and neither does anyone else here. I vote, but my vote's effect on what actually happens is so small it's not even measurable. Elections are not decided by thoughtful voters; they're decided by propagandists who control the majority of thoughtless voters.

Laying aside the propagandist argument for a bit I'd argue that the really hard part is finding someone to actually vote for. The last three elections I haven't seen any candidate I felt was worthy of my vote. What does one do then? I could run for office I suppose but that doesn't really solve the problem either since I wouldn't consider myself vote worthy either. (wrong skill sets)

Truth. If we vote trustworthy people into government, there is no need for transparency.

Easy in theory, impossible in practice. Since we have yet to prove the existence of psychic powers, transparency is the only way to know whether somebody is in fact trustworthy.

Psychic powers would be another form of transparency.

Yep. I was raised in a religious school and the most fascinating topic we ever touched was when a law is morally and contextually 'ok' to break.

While I don't agree with this course of action, I'm not entirely sure to what extent this is actually illegal. Clearly, organizing DDoS with malicious intent should be illegal, but is it really illegal? After all, technically, it is only causing high load by doing something that is more or less intended use for the technology.

If the people making the laws rig the game, you're not going to stand a chance of winning if you follow the rules.

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