When the banks, credit card corporations and PayPal imposed a financial blockade on WikiLeaks, Anonymous fought back with the largest coordinated electronic civil disobedience sit-in in history, inspiring others to take up the banner of hacktivism.
Outgunned and humiliated on the internet, PayPal went to their allies in law enforcement who arrested over a dozen suspected Anonymous members now known as the PayPal 14. Despite never having “exceeded authorized access,” the PayPal 14 were charged under the draconian Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) for what would typically result in misdemeanor trespassing or a disorderly conduct charge for the real world protest equivalent.
In addition to the second-class citizen status of a felony conviction, PayPal demanded an artificially inflated amount owed to them in restitution, totaling approximately $80,000. To complete the dog-and-pony show, should the fourteen meet the terms of their plea agreement, the felony will transfer to a misdemeanor on their record, while still showing, for statistical purposes, a CFAA felony win for the FBI. It is an unjust public shaming ritual that has adversely affected the lives of these 14 brave individuals. The PayPal 14 alone should not have to pay a multi-billion dollar corporation for an action in which tens of thousands of us participated in, which caused no actual loss or damage.
It is unfortunate (but not surprising) that wealthy social engineers such as Pierre Omidyar pay lip service to our cause but only after plea deals have been hammered out and outrageous restitutions imposed. This allows him to gain sympathy from the public while still advancing his own financial interests – his companies can still reap the benefit of the status quo, while crushing the free speech of ordinary working people and independent publishers.
Fortunately, the PayPal 14 are not alone. Our movement is only as strong as our ability to support those who get scapegoated. The PayPal 14 should not have to take all the weight of the restitution by themselves. It could have been any one of us, and so it is on us to help raise some funds.
Please donate to the PayPal 14 to help defray the costs of the restitution!