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eBay Founder Pleads For Leniency For the PayPal 14 225

Posted by timothy
from the reasonable-man-standards dept.
DavidGilbert99 writes "The founder of eBay, the parent company of PayPal, Pierre Omidyar has called on U.S. prosecutors to have mercy on the 14 members of Anonymous who are appearing in court this week facing up to 15 years in jail and a $500,000 fine for their part in a DDoS attack against PayPal in 2010. Despite thousands of Anons taking part, and most of the damage being done by two major botnets, the 14 are set to bear all the responsibility if U.S. prosecutors have their way."
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eBay Founder Pleads For Leniency For the PayPal 14

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 05, 2013 @11:17AM (#45607875)

    Make them pay, pal !!

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 05, 2013 @11:28AM (#45607997)

      it's sort of like how union leaders used to get put in jail (or killed) for organizing strikes. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pullman_Strike [wikipedia.org]

      Right now what they did does seem illegal hooliganism, as does most civil disobedience. Sometimes society adapts to see things differently. For now this is still hooliganism. I think they need to show a compelling good coming out of this if they expect a different response. The question is, what good would that be?

      • by noh8rz10 (2716597) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @12:45PM (#45608845)

        are these 14 people the lead organizers or instigators of the ddos, or just some kids who thought it would be cool but didn't hide their tracks etc?

        • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @01:33PM (#45609423)

          They all used Anons ddos app. It doesn't disguise your IP or anything. The point of it is, this is supposed to be a type of protest. I doubt there were any leaders in this case. 1 dude just pointed the application at the target and everyone else just ran the client for a few minutes. It's insane that this is illegal. This should be entirely a civil matter. Your ISP should ban you or you should be subject to a civil suit. But criminal charges? This is clearly a protest. Sounds like it was a hippie protest to me, and I hate hippies. But if we throw them in jail for bitching now, what's going to happen to all us non-hippies when we decide to bitch?

          • by noh8rz10 (2716597)

            Let's posit that this was a civil action not a criminal action. at what point do actions like this become criminal? For this they took a payment system offline. what if they took the NYSE stock exchange offline? what if they took a powerplant offline? (this may require other tools not just DDOS, but let's assume it was also accomplished by a large group of people as a form of protest).

            surely at some point it crosses the line to illegal actions. where is it?

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by ultranova (717540)

              Let's posit that this was a civil action not a criminal action. at what point do actions like this become criminal? For this they took a payment system offline. what if they took the NYSE stock exchange offline? what if they took a powerplant offline? (this may require other tools not just DDOS, but let's assume it was also accomplished by a large group of people as a form of protest).

              Let's say I send a strongly worded letter of protest to the NYSE stock exchange. Is this illegal? Now suppose 9,999,999 oth

            • by rtb61 (674572)

              Same old, same old. Permanent damage, permanent denial of access. So when it comes to a comparison with a brick and mortar presence. Dumping a load of rubble onto their driveway, well, actually disappearing rubble, as it cleans itself up as soon as it stops. So it temporarily stops access of customers to the store and highlights the reason for the protest. So typically a minor fine, for their specific activity and not for associated activity. So in this case they didn't dump a truck full of self removing r

          • by Nyder (754090)

            ...Sounds like it was a hippie protest to me, and I hate hippies. But if we throw them in jail for bitching now, what's going to happen to all us non-hippies when we decide to bitch?

            You'll be called a hippy also

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by AlphaWolf_HK (692722)

          Either way it's wrong. You don't go bring down some website like the gestapo just because they say something you don't like.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by AlphaWolf_HK (692722)

        Yes, it would just be awesome to live in a world where websites could disappear without notice because some activist didn't like something they said.

        I really don't get this mentality on slashdot that DDoS is civil disobedience. It isn't. It's censorship. A sit in allows the speaker to still be able to speak, a DDoS on the other hand is like the gestapo coming in and taking you away because you said something they didn't like. If there was no recourse for it, then how the fuck is the internet supposed to las

        • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 05, 2013 @03:07PM (#45610909)
          No it would be awesome to live in a world where protesters would only be allowed to protest in a convenient place where they didn't bother anyone else. Maybe designated "free speech" zones where they won't disturb the rest of us who need to sleep, go to work, go shopping etc.

          Anyone who protested elsewhere and disturbed other people should get 15 years in jail and a $500,000 fine.

          What a wonderful "Black or White" world that would be right?
          • I am not particularly fond of the extent of the punishment, but I am certainly in favor of your idea about limiting protests to areas where they do not disturbing people that are not interested in hearing them. Free speech is the right to say stuff, not the right to make people listen to you by force.
            • by bmo (77928)

              And you completely missed his point.

              People like you are the problem.

              --
              BMO

              • No, I didn't. I disagree with him, and told him that what he said in sarcasm is actually a good idea.

                And again no, people lik eme are not the problem. People like you, on the other hand, who think everybody should care about what you consider important, are part of the problem problem, my friend.
        • by Urza9814 (883915)

          I really don't get this mentality on slashdot that DDoS is civil disobedience. It isn't. It's censorship. A sit in allows the speaker to still be able to speak, a DDoS on the other hand is like the gestapo coming in and taking you away because you said something they didn't like.

          Wrong and wrong. The entire point of sit-ins is to be a denial of service attack. Look at the lunch counter sit-ins of the US civil rights movements. Yes, the point was just to sit there until they were served -- but in doing so they were preventing other customers from being served as well. Two people at a sit-in is not a DoS; twenty people is. Same here. A dozen Anon members could hammer the site all day long and nothing would happen -- the DoS only comes with a large mass of people. Even a public march i

      • Now if the Union Leaders tried to keep a peaceful strike. That is one thing.
        This isn't a strike it was planed malicious attack.

        Also Civil disobedience isn't protected by law. It means you are breaking the law for a cause. Now that you are going to break the law, you get caught you will face the penalty.
        Now if society feels your disobedience was worth it, you will be a marter for your cause, and cause future laws to be changed. However for the most part you will still be in jail.

  • Activism (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Luthair (847766) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @11:27AM (#45607985)
    Its odd how online activism is treated much differently than that which occurs in meatspace. Many protests occur in real life where access to buildings or simply roads are blocked yet the treatment of the two types protestors is very different.
    • Don't worry, if this sets a prescident the next Occupy Wallstreet type protesters that block sidewalks will start receiving huge fines and jailtime.

    • Re:Activism (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TheNastyInThePasty (2382648) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @11:41AM (#45608147)

      It's a difference in views. People view blocking a street as free speech. They see people staging a sit-in as trying to raise awareness for their cause and the send a message.

      DDoS, on the other hand, they view as vandalism (unfathomably severe vandalism, if these prosecutors are to be believed).

      Objectively, I don't see much of a difference between a sit-in and a DDoS but that might just be because I understand what a DDoS is. Most people don't.

      • by Talderas (1212466)

        The difference between a protest and a DDoS is that the protest which may or may not block access is capable of clearly demonstrating its views and what it's opposing. A DDoS conveys no such additional message. The parallel comparison between a DDoS attack and something similar in the meatspace would be to erect a bland and featureless wall around a business and then have one person in city in another country standing on the corner of an intersection yelling about whatever problem the business is apparently

        • I heard a story about a bunch of truckers who wanted to ride slowly around DC to block up the roads in protest. (I can't think of their names to provide a link). They most certainly considered it free speech despite the fact that the thousands of people behind them on the highway have no idea what's going on. I don't know if they ever went through with it. If they did, would they have been thrown in jail for a decade and fined for all of the financial damage it caused?

          That parallel seems pretty clear to me.

          • would they have been thrown in jail for a decade and fined for all of the financial damage it caused?

            They should have been. Driving your truck is not "speech." Purposefully shutting down the city deserves punishment.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        You don't see a difference because you aren't being objective.

        A protest is people communicating some kind of a message in a public place. Sometimes it is inconvenient when they block streets, etc. A DDoS on the other hand is like guys in ski masks showing up at your shop, kicking in the doors, running off your customers and not allowing you to do business for as long as they are there.

        • by Nyder (754090)

          You don't see a difference because you aren't being objective.

          A protest is people communicating some kind of a message in a public place. Sometimes it is inconvenient when they block streets, etc. A DDoS on the other hand is like guys in ski masks showing up at your shop, kicking in the doors, running off your customers and not allowing you to do business for as long as they are there.

          No it's not. And you know it's not, which is why you are posting as an AC.

          If you really believe this, log in and let your opinion count.

    • Not that I agree with any of these outcomes, but online activism requires a much lower amount of effort to take part and potentially has a much greater effect.

    • I agree to an extent. However; in one case you actually show up for the protest, in the other case you get a bunch of proxies to show up instead. Had the protest been achieved via the "slashdot" effect, nothing would have came of this. However manipulating machines to amplify your effect should be frowned upon.
    • by trongey (21550)

      Its odd how online activism is treated much differently than that which occurs in meatspace. Many protests occur in real life where access to buildings or simply roads are blocked yet the treatment of the two types protestors is very different.

      So you're suggesting that online activists should be tear-gassed, clubbed, and maybe a few of them shot? That doesn't seem very practical.

    • Re:Activism (Score:5, Interesting)

      by robinsonne (952701) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @11:52AM (#45608279)
      The difference being that meatspace activism is almost pointless these days. It might get a 30 second mention on the news on a slow day, but otherwise you're just shunted into a "free speech zone", traffic gets routed around the protest and is flat out ignored.

      Hacktivism on the other hand, has relatively immediate, noticeable (sometimes very much so) consequences that can either cost an organization money or if nothing else cause embarrassment.

      Meatspace protests make you feel good, and are probably amusing to the powers that be. Online, a few people can a real nuisance, which is what activism is trying to do: be a nuisance until a change happens. [sarcasm] We can't have things like that happening in this country. Obviously we have to set an example for these 14 people. [/sarcasm]
      • The difference being that meatspace activism is almost pointless these days.

        That mostly because most meatspace activism is like the Occupy 'Movement' - disorganized, and without a point, a plan, or an agenda. (In the rare occasions when it's not, it's a one-time affair that isn't really connected to anything else and won't have any follow on. The difference is moot really.)

        And this is a real problem - because it leads people to observe those fools and assume that because their cargo cult version of activi

    • by LoRdTAW (99712)

      Sitting in a street isn't costing a mega company lots of money money with plenty of politibucks to donate.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    And the prosecutors are probably out to send a message to all the potential hangers-on, that what they're doing is going to result in serious consequences.

    That way they have to think what will happen if they get caught, and it won't be a slap on the wrist.

    Which doesn't mean I think that what Anonymous was doing in this wasn't based on a genuinely good idea, I'm just expressing the intentions of the Justice Department.

    • by i kan reed (749298) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @11:35AM (#45608067) Homepage Journal

      But it won't work that way. It's never really worked that way. Making things more illegal doesn't really put more hindrance on what people do compared to just being illegal, else we'd have the whole crack thing wrapped up by now.

      "Tough on crime" is a moronic stance that doesn't address why people actually engage in crimes. A hint: very few people breaking the law are thinking rationally about consequences when they do.

      • by mcrbids (148650) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @12:26PM (#45608655) Journal

        ... a position which is frightfully naive. Of course making things more illegal is a deterrent. It used to be totally legal to drive with your kids in the back of your truck on the open freeway. It's now more illegal (at least in California) and you don't see (very many) people driving on the freeway with kids in the back of their truck.

        All officially recognized crimes are punished with the intent of deterring future crime, and you live in a time and place which ranks as among the most peaceful and civilized periods in all of known history. To suggest that this concept does not work betrays a stunning lack of understanding and respect for all the work put in by the millions of people who worked to establish and maintain the system that provides such domestic peace and tranquility.

        Did you actually think that spending 10 years in jail actually compensates the parents and loved ones of a murder victim? Sorry, if they're dead, no amount of punishment will ever bring them back, and until you've personally experienced the loss of a close loved one, you cannot really understand just how devastating such a loss can be.
          However, even sociopaths can understand personal injury and suffering even if they lack the ability empathize in any way with their victims.

        • by mythosaz (572040)

          Of course making things more illegal is a deterrent

          Legal is a binary function.

        • ... a position which is frightfully naive. Of course making things more illegal is a deterrent. It used to be totally legal to drive with your kids in the back of your truck on the open freeway. It's now more illegal (at least in California) and you don't see (very many) people driving on the freeway with kids in the back of their truck.

          All officially recognized crimes are punished with the intent of deterring future crime, and you live in a time and place which ranks as among the most peaceful and civilized periods in all of known history. To suggest that this concept does not work betrays a stunning lack of understanding and respect for all the work put in by the millions of people who worked to establish and maintain the system that provides such domestic peace and tranquility.

          Did you actually think that spending 10 years in jail actually compensates the parents and loved ones of a murder victim? Sorry, if they're dead, no amount of punishment will ever bring them back, and until you've personally experienced the loss of a close loved one, you cannot really understand just how devastating such a loss can be.

          However, even sociopaths can understand personal injury and suffering even if they lack the ability empathize in any way with their victims.

          You call me naive repeatedly, but I'm basing my position on the fact that it's been known for decades that it's measurably untrue [nytimes.com] that longer sentences do anything.

          In day to day free life, the difference between 5 years of captivity and 50 can seem pretty damn abstract. Maybe once you're there, in a cell, it's meaningful, but not to the thought processes of a would-be criminal. Your own naivety and need for petty revenge blinds you to the fact that crime is an objective, measurable problem, and can have o

  • by Grantbridge (1377621) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @11:33AM (#45608055)
    This makes perfect sense. If an angry mob smashes up some shops fronts, but police only catch 14 people you wouldn't charge them with the total damage of the entire mob, as well as the cost of upgrading security to protect against an angry mob in the future. You would charge each individual according to the damage they actually did. In this case a single person using LOIC doesn't really do any significant damage at all. You could charge them a 1/1000 of the cost of overtime for personal to deal with the attack, and the extra bandwidth they caused the company, but its madness to hold them responsible for the damage done by the entire swarm. In a cynical POV, this is also an excellent way for PayPall to remove themselves as a target when the PayPal14 are found guility.
    • by shentino (1139071)

      It's called conspiracy.

    • by tobiasly (524456)

      If an angry mob smashes up some shops fronts, but police only catch 14 people you wouldn't charge them with the total damage of the entire mob, as well as the cost of upgrading security to protect against an angry mob in the future. You would charge each individual according to the damage they actually did.

      No, it's not just about making the target of the attack whole, there is also a punitive aspect in order to discourage others in the future. The actual amounts in this case do seem excessive, but it has to hurt enough that future "anonymous cowards" seriously think twice before jumping in. Part of the mob mentality is thinking "there are so many of us, there's no way they'll catch me" and this shows that's just not true.

      Look, I dislike PayPal as much as anyone but vigilante mob justice isn't the answer and t

  • because if they all end up with 15 year sentences, people might start asking why we're such a sensitive target thats so dangerous to attack. it might draw more attention to our business practices and confidential information. our own employees might become sympathetic, nay, might start 'leaking' information on how we skirt banking regulations and use our market dominance to arbitrarily freeze funds or hold 30% of transactions for 90 days, or how we refuse to pay bug bounties and lock out entire countries
    • because if they all end up with 15 year sentences, people might start asking why we're such a sensitive target thats so dangerous to attack. it might draw more attention to our business practices and confidential information. our own employees might become sympathetic, nay, might start 'leaking' information on how we skirt banking regulations and use our market dominance to arbitrarily freeze funds or hold 30% of transactions for 90 days, or how we refuse to pay bug bounties and lock out entire countries without explanation.

      so if we could just stop over-reacting to this silly hacktivism and just go about our business that would be swell.

      Yeah, and I might be a Chinese jet pilot...

  • Deterrent (Score:5, Informative)

    by EMG at MU (1194965) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @11:49AM (#45608247)
    The objective here isn't to punish anyone proportionally to the crimes they committed. The whole point of online activists having the book thrown at them is to deter future activists.

    The corporations already feel like meatspace activists have too many rights, so it is imperative to set a precedent that online activism will be dealt with harshly.
    • Re:Deterrent (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @12:20PM (#45608579)

      The objective here isn't to punish anyone proportionally to the crimes they committed. The whole point of online activists having the book thrown at them is to deter future activists.

      You are right that this is a deterrence. I posted yesterday a much longer comment about this in the thread about the guy who got a huge fine and 2 years probation for participating for a very short time in the DOS. Basically US law allows for punitive damages in some cases and the system allows them to be exorbitant and perhaps even illogical. Sometimes these get reduced on appeal, but not always. The point is indeed to provide a deterrent against others doing the same thing in the future. It's not at all about fairness. If you are American and don't like it, work to change the system (probably not possible though) or complain all you want, but it's not going away. If you're not American, you can complain all you want about it but you can't change it.

      I mentioned this in my post yesterday too, but some of it is that jury members in general know little about technology and some are almost Luddites. Judges and lawyers in general also know little about technology. This leads to prosecutors and judges overreacting against things they don't understand very well and juries overreacting to punish people due to not really understanding what they did.

      • This leads to prosecutors and judges overreacting against things they don't understand very well and juries overreacting to punish people due to not really understanding what they did.

        I don't assume that the prosecutors and judges are overreacting because they don't understand technology. I think they understand completely that it is in the corporation's best interests to have disproportionate penalties for online activism compared to meatspace activism. They already lost the fight in meatspace, protests get a lot of coverage and it is really bad PR to see police pepper spraying protesters. I think they have the clear goal of establishing that online protests/activism will not be tolera

    • I'll accept that argument when we start executing cops for using excessive force.
    • The objective here isn't to punish anyone proportionally to the crimes they committed. The whole point of online activists having the book thrown at them is to deter future activists.

      The corporations already feel like meatspace activists have too many rights, so it is imperative to set a precedent that online activism will be dealt with harshly.

      Have we established the Anonymous are activists? They call themselves activists, but their actions are those of a bunch of asshats who believed that if enough asshats do their asshattery in unison none of them will be caught and punished. I have a hard time telling the difference between Anonymous and 4chan.

      • Just because they do things you don't agree with doesn't mean they aren't activists. Being an activist, criminal, and "asshat" are not mutually exclusive and depending on your viewpoint a lot of activists are asshats. I'm sure that in the US there were some white southerners who considered MLK Jr. to be an asshat. Lot's of people consider Greenpeace and PETA to be both activists and asshats. Lots of people consider the ACLU to be activists and asshats. Lots of people dont.
        • Just because they do things you don't agree with doesn't mean they aren't activists. Being an activist, criminal, and "asshat" are not mutually exclusive and depending on your viewpoint a lot of activists are asshats. I'm sure that in the US there were some white southerners who considered MLK Jr. to be an asshat. Lot's of people consider Greenpeace and PETA to be both activists and asshats. Lots of people consider the ACLU to be activists and asshats. Lots of people dont.

          How many of those you named in comparison specifically and exclusively use only illegal methods to attempt to further their causes?

  • by tekrat (242117) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @11:55AM (#45608301) Homepage Journal

    Then the 14 would only have to pay a small fine and admit no wrongdoing. Really, what they should have done was form their own bank if they wanted to steal money. I mean, look at Paypal, and they aren't even a bank!

  • Omidyar says that as someone "deeply committed to government transparency, press freedoms and free expression, these issues hit close to home."

    Remember that it was the permanent restriction of Wikileaks account that triggered the Anonymous attack in the first place.

  • In the extreme example of felony murder you can be convicted of murder if you are part of a criminal conspiracy that ends in the death of the victim.

    The general rule has always been that participants in a conspiracy are personally and collectively responsible any and all damages caused by the conspiracy.

    It sucks to be the small fish who gets caught and fried ---

    but why do you think your partners in crime recruited a minnow?

  • When do we start applying penalties like this to the NSA?

  • Criminal punishment is not shared. If 10 people are convicted of a crime, they don't each get 1/10th the sentence that a single individual would. Just because some perpetrators go unpunished, doesn't meant that the convicted are doing their time. Likewise, the money is a fine, not recompensation, so the value isn't determined by distributing restitution across all of the convicted.

  • by alexo (9335) on Thursday December 05, 2013 @03:39PM (#45611479) Journal

    Dissent will not be tolerated!

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