Hacktivists urge PayPal boycott

Hacktivism groups Anonymous and LulzSec are urging users of online payments service PayPal to close their accounts, following the arrest of a student who allegedly took part in a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on the company.

The DDoS attack took place last year after PayPal blocked donations to transparency organisation WikiLeaks, reportedly on the instruction of the US government.

A joint statement from the groups, uploaded to PasteBin today, told PayPal users not to put their "trust into a company that freezes accounts when it feels like, or when it is pressured by the US government".

Earlier this month, Mercedes Renee Haefer was arrested for her alleged participation in the DDoS attack against PayPal, and faces a $500,000 fine and up to 15 years in prison. She is alleged to have used a web application called the Low Orbit Ion Cannon, which floods a chosen IP address with requests.

In the joint statement, LulzSec and Anonymous said that Haefer’s alleged actions do not constitute genuine cyber criminal activity.

"What the FBI needs to learn is that there is a vast difference between adding one’s voice to a chorus and digital sit-in with Low Orbit Ion Cannon, and controlling a large botnet of infected computers. And yet both of these are punishable with exactly the same fine and sentence," the statement reads.

According to one of many Twitter accounts associated with Anonymous, at least 450 Twitter users have claimed to have closed their PayPal accounts since the campaign was launched this morning.

The hackers urged people who closed their accounts to donate any money in those accounts to charity. "Closed my three @PayPal accounts! Donated the last $300 to the charity! @PayPal will suffer #OpPayPal will win!" read a tweet from one user.

PayPal told Information Age that they could not comment on the issue due to ongoing legal action. “As we state in our privacy policy, PayPal works with law enforcement or government officials if we receive a subpoena or court order; if we need to do so to comply with law; or if we believe in good faith that illegal activity has occurred,” the company said in a statement.

Pete Swabey

Pete Swabey

Pete was Editor of Information Age and head of technology research for Vitesse Media plc from 2005 to 2013, before moving on to be Senior Editor and then Editorial Director at The Economist Intelligence...

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