PayPal 14 and the Consequences of Standing up and Fighting with DDoS

The case of Keith, among the others charged with the DDoS attack against PayPal back in 2010, highlights the oxymoron of justice nowadays. Keith was the person who tried to help out protesters to express their opinion safely, during the Arab Spring.

Democratic activists in Iran and other countries were facilitated by the work of Keith and others, so as to support their opinion and make it known to the public. Now, in an idyllic society, such behavior would have ended in some sort of acknowledgement and praise for one’s moral standards. Instead, the government sent the FBI to arrest Keith and bring him in, under the charges of defending the freedom of speech in a turbulent era.

The attack against PayPal took place in December 2010, as a direct result of the company’s financial blockade to WikiLeaks. In order to defend the freedom of WikiLeaks to inform the world without any problems, Keith and the others thought it best to act and block PayPal with a DDoS attack. According to the statistics that PayPal released to the public, the cost of this attack was $5.6 million (although they did not give the same damage cost to US Security and Exchange Commission).

Keith has stood by its initial choice and therefore regrets nothing. Even though he could have used a safe environment for his acts against PayPal and in favor of freedom of speech, no VPN was actually used. If it had been used, the FBI would have had trouble getting to him and charging him with the crimes that were indeed charged. Although the consequences of standing up to his beliefs were substantial (with work loss and quite a few limitations as to what he can use online – for instance the IRC or Twitter), Keith managed to pay the financial sentence that he had to, with a total of $5,600 restitution. This is the penalty for harming a computer that had been protected, without any authorization.

When asked about Anonymous and what the US government actually thinks they are, Keith states the following: “It’s black and white and miscomprehends what groups like Anonymous are — it’s a platform, a network, there is no hierarchy, there is no single group, people are freely able to join, make a proposal, help. You end up with all these small operations doing their own thing.”

Although it is tempting to just put all the “enemies” under the same labels, this is not the right thing to do. For example, al – Qaeda can never be matched to Anonymous or WikiLeaks. Still, to some there is no difference, making the decision as to how to act in each case a bit blurry!

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