PayPal Latest To Cut Off Wikileaks

from the political-pressure dept

Over the weekend, Paypal became the latest company to cut off Wikileaks' account, saying that it was a "terms of service" violation -- the same excuse Amazon gave. Of course, Wikileaks had been using Paypal for quite some time before this, so it seems pretty clear that the reasoning was (yet again) political pressure put on American companies, threatening them for working with Wikileaks. What's funny about all of this, of course, is that it's only going to serve to give Wikileaks more attention, and drive up demand for competing services to these US companies overseas. In an effort to "stop" access to information that is widely accessible, all the US is really doing is (a) promoting that information more while (b) harming the reputation of American companies.


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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2010 @ 3:34am

    Somehow related articles

    Related to this PayPal news, an interesting article' about Sen. Lieberman's office response to Amazon cut-off:

    http://www.fastcompany.com/1707262/why-lieberman-had-nothing-to-do-with-amazon-dropping-wikileak s

    In the same site, an apparently more accurate description of Assange's alleged 'rape' accusations:

    http://www.fastcompany.com/1707146/wikileaks-assange-wanted-for-sex-by-surprise-but-the-internet -thinks-hes-a-rapist

     

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      Josef Anvil (profile), Dec 6th, 2010 @ 4:15am

      Re: Somehow related articles

      It is annoying the way the US is overreacting to Wikileaks. I hate to bash Obama, because he was left a huge mess by the incompetent that had the job before him, but he ran on a platform of "transparency" in the government.

      The same way Bush used executive orders to bypass the Constitution, Obama can do the same and end things like this Wikileaks witch hunt.

      As for the rape charges. I think most people with a brain could figure out there was a lot more to this story. It seemed that every law enforcement agency around the globe was doing a very poor job of finding and arresting one of the most high profile rapists in the world. Why? Because if they arrest him, he'll be fined for sex without a condom and then the story goes away and the media has to accept he's not a rapist.

      The whole thing is just a circus, and the Streisand Effect is full on. When will the media figure out that all publicity is good publicity when you are trying to squash information?

       

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        Richard (profile), Dec 6th, 2010 @ 4:51am

        Re: Re: Somehow related articles

        Heard an interview with his lawyer on the radio.

        Apparently his defence team are pursuing the prosecutor and the prosecutor is running away!

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2010 @ 9:45am

        Re: Re: Somehow related articles

        This of course is bread and circuses right now. The real question is what else is going on right now while we are so focused on Wikileaks.

        Just like the mass coverage of the O.J trial while the US was bombing another country I suspect something else major is going on right now.

         

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      Richard Kulawiec, Dec 6th, 2010 @ 4:48am

      Re: Somehow related articles

      In re the rape accusation, see also: http://www.crikey.com.au/2010/12/02/when-it-comes-to-assange-r-pe-case-the-swedes-are-making- it-up-as-they-go-along/ which reads in part:

      The phenomena of social networking through the internet and mobile phones constrains Swedish authorities from augmenting the evidence against Assange because it would look even less credible in the face of tweets by Anna Ardin and SMS texts by Sofia Wilén boasting of their respective conquests after the “crimes”.
      In the case of Ardin it is clear that she has thrown a party in Assange’s honour at her flat after the “crime” and tweeted to her followers that she is with the “the world’s coolest smartest people, it’s amazing!”. Go on the internet and see for yourself. That Ardin has sought unsuccessfully to delete these exculpatory tweets from the public record should be a matter of grave concern. That she has published on the internet a guide on how to get revenge on cheating boyfriends ever graver. The exact content of Wilén’s mobile phone texts is not yet known but their bragging and exculpatory character has been confirmed by Swedish prosecutors. Niether Wilén’s nor Ardin’s texts complain of rape.

      There's more at the link.

       

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    Marcel de Jong (profile), Dec 6th, 2010 @ 3:58am

    Except Paypal didn't shut down Wikileaks' account, as they didn't have their own account, but the funding via Paypal went through the Wau Holland Stiftung.
    A not-for-profit foundation founded in name of Chaos Computer Club co-founder Wau Holland.

    As a personal remark: I hate the way the US is behaving at the moment. It's a very scary idea to see a world power act as a petulant 2 year old child, screaming and kicking just to get their way.

     

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    Lisae Boucher (profile), Dec 6th, 2010 @ 4:35am

    No, there's a drawback!

    There's a huge drawback, though! While Wikileaks might get more attention this way, they might still have to shut down their operations, simply because they need the money! The Wikileaks sites eat up a lot of bandwidth because of the amount of data plus the huge amount of visitors. Wikileaks needs to pay it's bills and those bills are high. And there aren't many providers willing to host the Wikileaks site for free, for a long time.
    Once they can't pay the bill, they will be unable to keep the site up in a normal way. They would need to rely upon many mirror sites, which makes updates to the site a bit more difficult, since all mirrors need to be updated too. It might not stop Wikileaks, but it makes it harder for the leaks to go around...

     

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      Lisae Boucher (profile), Dec 6th, 2010 @ 4:36am

      Re: No, there's a drawback!

      Also, how would Wikileak like to pay it's bills, when it can't have an account?

       

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      Shaun Wilson (profile), Dec 6th, 2010 @ 4:47am

      Re: No, there's a drawback!

      You can still donate by credit card and I would encourage everyone who is able to do so, this will be a protest of paypal folding under pressure and wikileaks itself could certainly do with the money as you have pointed out.

       

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        Berenerd (profile), Dec 6th, 2010 @ 6:19am

        Re: Re: No, there's a drawback!

        In the US you have American express...visa....discover...mastercard...all american companies/banks that would then get pressure from the US to stop.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2010 @ 8:00am

          Re: Re: Re: No, there's a drawback!

          And they will gladly share your transactions with the CIA and FBI for a paltry sum of money.

          The definition of a fascist state is the amalgamation of corporatism and governance.

           

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      Richard Kulawiec, Dec 6th, 2010 @ 4:57am

      Re: No, there's a drawback!

      Updating many mirror sites is a trivially easy problem for anyone who knows how to use rsync; I've used it to keep over a thousand copies of certain data synchronized. It's not the only way of course, but rsync+cron is a free, scalable, simple solution that anyone equipped with basic Unix/Linux system administration skills should be able to deploy.

      And there ARE many mirror sites: one tally I saw this morning says that there are now 70. I'm sure that's only the beginning. Soon there will be hundreds, then thousands -- and I presume that not all of them will be public, that is, I presume that some will be held in reserve as insurance.

      As to size, well, nobody (out here) knows how much data Wikileaks actually has, but certainly the entire diplomatic cable database will fit comfortably on a modest USB stick, and I'll bet that their entire holdings will fit on a single (large) USB disk. A terabyte just isn't as big as it used to be. ;-)

       

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        cc (profile), Dec 6th, 2010 @ 5:42am

        Re: Re: No, there's a drawback!

        355 and counting, according to their twitter.

         

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        tracker1, Dec 6th, 2010 @ 9:16am

        Re: Re: No, there's a drawback!

        I keep thinking it would be cool to have a torrent/dht + browser... when you pull up a resource, it will check against a dht, and pull that down into your cache/seed pile... when the cache size (minimum 1GB to join) on your HDD starts to get full, there's a weighted algorithm that will kill the more well seeded files from your system.. this would ensure that the information is out there, and that it's easily browsable... If some people wanted to put a 1-2TB HDD into their dynamic-wikileaks cache, they'd have the entire archive.. a few thousand do this, it's simply preserved for good.

         

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        Michael Lockyear (profile), Dec 6th, 2010 @ 11:12am

        Over 500 mirrors now.

        The actual process appears very easy:
        http://wikileaks.ch/mass-mirror.html

         

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          Richard Kulawiec, Dec 6th, 2010 @ 11:55am

          Re:

          It find it interesting that (so far) none of those mirrors are being operated by The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Miami Herald, the Denver Post, the Chicago Tribune, etc.

           

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      Michael Lockyear (profile), Dec 6th, 2010 @ 5:03am

      It may have the exact opposite effect - people who would not have otherwise donated (or paid attention) to Wikileaks might do so just to give their censoring overlords the proverbial finger.

      It also highlights the need for alternatives to American providers.

       

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        tracker1, Dec 6th, 2010 @ 9:26am

        I have to agree.. this is my first thought... I've been considering donating, the more I hear about the BS being pushed onto wikileaks... As to money oriented decisions.. if Wikileaks is paying for the per-unit charges that Amazon charges all customers, then it isn't a money decision.. if the U.S. Gov't is threatening these companies, it isn't a money decision.

         

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    Yeah Right, Dec 6th, 2010 @ 4:38am

    Not the first time

    Mike, why didn't you link to your article from January, discussing the then second cutoff by Paypal?

    Apparently, the problem was resolved back then, so it would be interesting to hear how. Also, if Wikileaks were respecting Paypal's terms of use enough to restore service, what made Paypal reconsider now?

     

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    Call me Al, Dec 6th, 2010 @ 5:15am

    I think it is only a matter of time before the US authorities have Wikipedia blocked because they appear to be sufficiently foolish.

     

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      Richard (profile), Dec 6th, 2010 @ 6:28am

      Re:

      The BBC's "Have I got News for you" programme last Thursday contained the line:

      "Having identified the source or the problem as Wikileaks the US will now be invading Wikipedia..."

       

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    Michael, Dec 6th, 2010 @ 5:29am

    Ok then.

    Boycott time for Paypal. Their service is not that great anyway.

     

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    Comboman (profile), Dec 6th, 2010 @ 5:47am

    PayPal Sucks!

    I would threaten to cancel my PayPal account in protest but I already did that years ago for unrelated reasons. In short, PayPal Sucks!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2010 @ 6:09am

    Yo'all better follow the rules or Papa Amazon or Mama PayPal will smack your ass. These are the dangerous ones. You watch out for Amazon now. Too much power for idiots.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2010 @ 6:19am

    That's just the funniest thing I had ever heard, imagine being indicted in Sweden (snicker) for a sex crime. Don't they have public sex places and stuff. I mean it's Sweden man. I've never been there but I would love to go. What a blast.

    Let me get this right. It is a crime to have unprotected sex or sex by surprise in Sweden. Hell at my age any sex is a surprise and I sure as hell won't turn you in to the cops for it.

     

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    Lance (profile), Dec 6th, 2010 @ 6:20am

    Perhaps unrelated...

    It is interesting to read the various remarks to this story. It seems that the majority here is quite willing to jump on the "bash the US/bash the government bandwagon", but I see very little in terms of reasonable statements. It is true that WikiLeaks has done some good, with respects to opening up the flow of information about government secrets. But it is also true that governments sometimes have good reasons for not parading all of the information before the general public. Julian Assange seems to have decided that he is the ultimate arbiter of the those decisions.

    Now, as to whether PayPal, Amazon, or any other corporation, should respond to the pressure of governments or boycotts; the answer is not as easy as it might sound. For profit corporations (such as PayPal and Amazon) are created with specific purpose, and it isn't to be watchdogs over the rights of a group that decides it wants to take on the governments of the world. When Amazon and PayPal point to their terms of service, and then point out that some of what WikiLeaks is doing is prohibited by the laws where those companies are operating, what do you expect them to do? Do you expect them to tell their shareholders, "Tough luck gang. We're going to expose you to the risk of massive potential losses so that we can support this group that is acting criminally"? If they do that then they become liable for lawsuits coming from the other direction.

    Finally, let's start applying a label to Julian Assange that fits, the new 007 super-villan. Whether he is guilty of rape or sexual misconduct in Sweden, or elsewhere, you have to admit his latest statements make him sound like Ernst Blofeld of SPECTRE. His threats regarding the "insurance file" and how he will release the password for it, should anything happen to him or WikiLeaks, are only just shy of outright attempted extortion. I can easily picture him sitting in a London flat, cat on his lap, giving out that wonderfully evil laugh as he typed up that missive.

     

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      Marcel de Jong (profile), Dec 6th, 2010 @ 6:46am

      Re: Perhaps unrelated...

      Assange a James Bond supervillain? For what? Rape? No, that would make him the weakest Bond villain ever.
      For publishing these leaks? He's no more guilty than the New York Times and the Washington Post were (the Pentagon Papers and the Watergate Scandal respectively)

      Secondly, Wikileaks has yet to do anything that's illegal according to US laws.
      So, stating that as your reason to deny or worse close someone's account with your service is weaksauce.

      Thirdly, the Paypal account didn't belong to Wikileaks, but to a German not-for-profit foundation, that sympathized with Wikileaks and helped them out with the funding.

      Fourthly, the timeline is very suspicious, and it looks as if governmental pressure was used to get EveryDNS, Amazon and Paypal to close anything related to Wikileaks.
      Which sounds suspiciously like Stateside censorship to me.

      But if the US thinks that they can put this genie back inside the bottle, they've got another thing coming.
      More than 300 mirrors and counting, this is like the ending in V for Vendetta, where everyone who didn't side with the government wore a Guy Fawkes' mask.

      That insurance file is just that, insurance. Because I'm quite sure that Assange's life isn't safe anymore. By doing this, he makes sure that any opposing factor will not kill him outright. Especially with US public figures demanding his death, that's a handy thing to have, that insurance.

       

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        Call me Al, Dec 6th, 2010 @ 7:03am

        Re: Re: Perhaps unrelated...

        Very true about the insurance file. When you consider that prominent politicians are calling for him to be hunted down and killed I think its sensible that he takes his own safety into account and takes steps to ensure it as far as possible.

         

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        Lance (profile), Dec 6th, 2010 @ 8:00am

        Re: Re: Perhaps unrelated...

        The reference to the James Bond super villain was only in reference to the way he put out the news of his insurance file. To me, it came across in the same way the threats that Blofeld's did in the Bond flicks. Perhaps it would have been more appropriate to associate his remarks with Mike Meyers' Dr. Evil character.

        As for whether WikiLeaks did anything illegal, if they end up being charged with something then that would be for an actual judge/jury to determine. As yet, they haven't been formally charged with anything. That does not mean that they will not be charged at some time in the future.

        If you are doing something that aids or abets a party in an what you believe may be an ongoing crime, it is usually a good idea to separate yourself from the party as soon as possible. It is better to do so before charges are filed, otherwise you might find yourself amongst those that are being charged.

        Your description of the German not-for-profit foundation borders on a good description for a money-laundering organization. Again, the tie may not be direct, but why open yourself up for the possible risk?

        The part about the time line being suspicious is almost too funny for words. Of course the government is applying pressure. That is what governments do before they actually do something totally draconian. It is a bit like telling your children that they shouldn't do something, as the result of doing it might be unpleasant. You do that as a warning, in the hopes that you won't be called upon to actually do something unpleasant (such as file criminal charges).

        No, the genie won't go back inside the bottle. That's why I'm for doing something fairly drastic, in order to get the insurance file opened up. After all, if you don't just go ahead and blow the lid off of it, Blofeld (err...Assange) is just going to carry on using it as his blackmail threat. I don't care what they do, including the non-discretionary elimination him and all of his minions. We won't be any better or worse off.

         

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          Marcel de Jong (profile), Dec 6th, 2010 @ 3:08pm

          Re: Re: Re: Perhaps unrelated...

          Would you have condemned the Washington Post for the Watergate stories? Or the New York Times for publishing the Pentagon Papers? After all those were leaked from a classified source as well. And the publishing of those was not deemed a criminal act, the leaking is probably illegal.
          But Wikileaks itself did not leak the cables, they only published it.

          If Wikileaks were to ever become indicted and convicted of a crime relating these and/or other cables, you might want to take a moment to remember the First Amendement and the freedom of the press, before the judges put those in a shredder.

           

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      Hephaestus (profile), Dec 6th, 2010 @ 6:59am

      Re: Perhaps unrelated...

      ...

      Definition of Extortion outwresting, and/or exaction is a criminal offense which occurs when a person unlawfully obtains either money, property or services from a person(s), entity, or institution, through coercion.


      "I can easily picture him sitting in a London flat, cat on his lap, giving out that wonderfully evil laugh as he typed up that missive."

      That I really can't see. Him sitting in the back of a limo eatting sushi while naked and singing show tunes, that I can see ...

       

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      Richard Kulawiec, Dec 6th, 2010 @ 7:11am

      Re: Perhaps unrelated...

      But it is also true that governments sometimes have good reasons for not parading all of the information before the general public.

      1. It is also true that governments frequently cover up waste, stupidity, corruption, deceit, and malfeasance by not parading this information before the public. As we see in this case, and as we have seen in many others. 2. Governments will need to adjust to a world where this reality has changed. They can kick and scream like petulant two-year-olds (to borrow a phrase from elsewhere in this thread) but it won't matter. The world has moved on, and now they have to play catch-up.

      Julian Assange seems to have decided that he is the ultimate arbiter of the those decisions.

      This statement reflects a failure to grasp The Big Picture. Let me spell it out for you:

      -- if not Assange, then someone else at Wikileaks
      -- if not Wikileaks, then someone else at another site
      -- if not another site, then via P2P networking
      -- if not via P2P networking, then via portable devices

      It was inevitable that this would happen; it was only a matter of when, and how, and who. It cannot be stopped, although many fools will certainly try. We just happen to be living at the point in time where it's happening.

      "Tough luck gang. We're going to expose you to the risk of massive potential losses so that we can support this group that is acting criminally"?

      1. Please cite the specific criminal statutes that Wikileaks has violated -- keeping in mind, of course, that statutes vary by jurisdiction. If you can't cite any, then you must retract this statement, because you can't show that any criminal conduct is involved. 2. Odd, isn't it, that Amazon and Paypal support activity that actually IS illegal (e.g., spam, spyware, phishing, etc.) to some extent in some jurisdictions, but getting them to take remedial action about those turns out to be much more difficult.

      Finally, let's start applying a label to Julian Assange that fits, the new 007 super-villan.

      Please. Spare us from the movie plots and other worthless tripe. This is the real world. Also: you need to look up the definition of extortion. It does not mean what you think it means.

       

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        Lance (profile), Dec 6th, 2010 @ 8:17am

        Re: Re: Perhaps unrelated...

        I don't have a problem with there being oversight for the things you listed. In fact, I wish there was better oversight for many of the issues within the government. I do have an issue with Julian Assange setting himself up as the watchdog over governments and what secrets they have.

        His actions are taken without any accountability or responsibility. Who is he helping to protect? Who is he acting to benefit? So far, the only person that I see him actually trying to help is himself.

        I don't know the criminal statutes that may apply here. It isn't my business to know those statutes. However, I would bet that the attorneys for PayPal, Amazon and anyone else that has had "pressure from the government" applied to them can tell you what statutes might apply here.

        I'm glad that you find my reference to Bond films "worthless tripe." Your sincere contempt for my analogy gives me reason to smile, as I rarely get to see such an elitist attitude anymore.

         

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          Richard Kulawiec, Dec 6th, 2010 @ 8:42am

          Re: Re: Re: Perhaps unrelated...

          So far, the only person that I see him actually trying to help is himself.

          Really?

          REALLY?

          Let's review briefly what he's done for himself: he's been reduced to a nomadic lifestyle. Politicians in multiple countries are calling for all sorts of Bad Things to be done to him. He's on Interpol's red list thanks to political pressure and prosecutorial misconduct in Sweden. And so on.

          Yeah, he's really done a lot for himself. Obviously he's sitting pretty and can just do whatever he wants for the rest of his life. Yep. No worries at all.

           

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        Michial Thompson, Dec 6th, 2010 @ 8:25am

        Re: Re: Perhaps unrelated...

        Richard; In regards to retracing the statement because of the lack of statute. You need to retract as well, it does not require a specific statute to file a lawsuite. The statement of "Tough luck gang. We're going to expose you to the risk of massive potential losses so that we can support this group that is acting criminally"? does still hold weight. We do not live in an idealistic world, and to stand on principals is costly in our society. While in an idealistic world we would be able to stand on our principals because it is the right thing to do, in our world it's not that way. Companies are formed to make money for their investors. Amazon, Paypal and all the others are no exception. Hell not even Google is exempt from this rule... Decissions are made based on what is best for the purpose of making money for the investors. While none of these companies are liable for the actions of WikiLeaks, that does not change the cost of hosting WikiLeaks WikiLeaks is a hot potato right now, and very few corporations want to be associated with it because it's costly for them. It's costly on just about every level, companies are being hit with DoS attacks, threatened with lawsuites, threatened by loss of business, and thats the negative side. Wikileaks is getting so much press that it's popularity is going up at unpredictable speeds which makes it impossible to project bandwidth needs for planning. Even if a host was able to stay ahead of the bandwidth needs curve, its costly to commit to the bandwidth levels knowing full well that this is a short term increase and when the press moves onto Obama's next wag the dog campain the popularity of wikileaks will die off and the hosts will be stuck with the commitments. It's easy to be an armchair quarterback and talk about how you would do everything differently when it's not your checkbook footing the bills. It's easy to talk about how these companies are wrong for dropping wikileaks when its only your opinion at stake and not your buisness, your livelyhood or the jobs of thousands under you. I actually own and run a business. I worked my way up from the bottom of the chain of other businesses. Every day I am given the opportunity to put my money where my mouth is, and I look back every day at the number of times I thought I could do my boss' job better and I now see all the things that was affecting those boss' decissiosn that I didn't see back then.

         

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          Richard Kulawiec, Dec 6th, 2010 @ 9:09am

          Re: Re: Re: Perhaps unrelated...

          I'm not able to follow your line of reasoning here. At least in the US, which is the only legal system I'm even partially familiar with, there's a difference between criminal law and civil law.

          The former enumerates a list of offenses, like "arson" and "embezzlement" and so on, for which someone can be charged with a crime, prosecuted for it, perhaps convicted, and if so, sentenced. The latter deals with disagreements between parties that aren't criminal, e.g., contract disputes, patent arguments, and so on. And as far as I can tell, just about anybody can file a lawsuit against just about anyone at any time for just about anything. (Of course this doesn't mean that it's a good idea or that they'll be successful...but they can file.)

          So while sometimes the two are intertwined (e.g., someone who has been the victim of a crime may choose to sue the perpetrator, in a legal action separate from the government's prosecution of that same perpetrator) my best understanding is that they're different areas of law.

          Which means that (for example) I could file suit against Wikileaks today because I don't like their logo. Nothing stops me -- well, except common sense. But I'm not aware of any criminal charges pending against the organization at this time. It's not clear to me (and I'm not an attorney, this is not legal advice) that they've actually broken any (US) laws.

          If you can cite a US law, or for that matter, a law in any other country, that they've broken, I'd like to see that citation and the reasoning behind it.

           

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            ignorant_ (profile), Dec 6th, 2010 @ 10:03am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Perhaps unrelated...

            Here's a cool lawsuit. Not criminal, but very funny....

            http://i.cdn.turner.com/dr/teg/tsg/release/sites/default/files/assets/richesvassange.pd f

            As far as pending" criminal charges (none I am aware of in the US so far but....)

            From an interview NOV. 28 2010 with the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Franco Frattini....

            He claims, that “Wikileaks has committed crimes against our national interests”.

            When asked..., "Do you mean that Italy too should be opening criminal proceedings against Assange and Wikileaks?"

            Answer:
            “I think the judiciary should be seriously weighing up that possibility. As a lawyer myself, I can tell you that a crime has been committed. But there’s another consideration as regards Wikileaks: the secret services have got nothing to do with this. Here we’re talking about Embassy cables that American diplomats throughout the world send back to Washington. It’s what embassies do. I get tens of reports from Italian ambassadors every day. You see, one of the pillars of diplomacy is that confidentiality must be guaranteed. Otherwise, it could no longer act as an instrument to address and resolve disputes, engage in dialogue with adversaries or express criticisms, even on the work of our friends. Transparency doesn’t come into it”.

            Hmmm.

            (He also claims that "The director of Wikileaks is under trial in at least 10 countries and is on the ‘wanted’ list.") Just FYI...

             

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              Richard Kulawiec, Dec 6th, 2010 @ 10:22am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Perhaps unrelated...

              He claims, that “Wikileaks has committed crimes against our national interests”.

              and "[...]As a lawyer myself, I can tell you that a crime has been committed. [...]"

              I note that he fails to name those alleged crimes. One would think that a lawyer publicly making such statements would take the time to enumerate the offenses.

               

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      cc (profile), Dec 6th, 2010 @ 7:18am

      Re: Perhaps unrelated...

      "Julian Assange seems to have decided that he is the ultimate arbiter of the those decisions."

      He would be powerless without the support of the public! Cablegate is happening not because Assange decided to do it, but because people want it to happen -- if it weren't Assange doing it, someone else would have stepped up to the mark sooner or later.

      "Now, as to whether PayPal, Amazon, or any other corporation, should respond to the pressure of governments or boycotts; the answer is not as easy as it might sound."

      Perhaps, but that's part of what all this is about: this is to show that the government has no qualms about crapping all over the first amendment. It does that not by direct censorship (which is unconstitutional), but by pressuring private infrastructure providers to refuse service (no problemo).

      "let's start applying a label to Julian Assange that fits, the new 007 super-villan."

      Ah, gotta love the propaganda. Negative connotations FTW.

      Instead of resorting to childish labels like "pirates" and "supervillains", how about we be reasonable instead? He's taking on the government of a superpower, who wouldn't think twice about calling him a terrurhist and putting a bullet through his head. If I were in his position, I wouldn't hesitate to do the exact same thing. Plus, he's not threatening to blow anyone up, so the supervillain label is undeserved -- Bush and Osama were definitely 007 supervillains, though!

       

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      ignorant_slut (profile), Dec 6th, 2010 @ 8:22am

      Re: Perhaps unrelated...

      I agree. Wikileaks is supposedly an organization "dedicated to bringing important news and information to the public", dedicated to increasing transparency. Now Mr. Assange says he has the equivalent of a dirty bomb that he will release if anything happens to him or Wikileaks. Hmmm.

      It is not quite extortion, which is "the obtaining of property from another, with his consent, induced by wrongful use of actual or threatened force, violence, or fear, or under color of official right." 18 U.S.C. S 1951(b)(2).

      Now, I am sure that governments have tried to extort Assange, but I would argue in this case, Mr. Assange is simply trying to protect himself and Wikileaks, but frankly, its not a very strong negotiating position.

      Its simply hypocritical of Mr. Assange to take such a position. And he really has no choice now but to release the "insurance file" eventually. Say nothing happens to him or Wikileaks.... Is he going to withhold the "insurance file" from the public forever? Well then...that's not right. The cat's out of the bag. People know Assange has something damming, and people won't forget it.

      It makes Assange look just as bad as the corporations and governments he is exposing. He is keeping secrets for the best interest of .... (In this case, himself.)

      Regarding Paypal, who cares? I hate PayPal. This is probably just another money-driven business decision, and may have nothing to do with them "responding to the pressure of the government". I bet PayPal received some memo from some government lawyer, citing all sorts of legalese as to why Paypal cannot engage in business with Wikileaks. Paypal probably simply decided the $ wasn't worth it compared to the cost. They probably don't really give a crap about Assange, and who knows? Perhaps Assange has some info to expose about Paypal?

       

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      Chris Rhodes (profile), Dec 6th, 2010 @ 9:01am

      Re: Perhaps unrelated...

      Julian Assange seems to have decided that he is the ultimate arbiter of the those decisions.

      Alright, so who do you want to replace him with?

       

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    Johnny, Dec 6th, 2010 @ 6:34am

    Does paypal keep the money?

    What I always wonder when I hear about Paypal blocking an account is if they hold the money in the account? Or do they return it to the people who sent it?

    I have a feeling they'll keep it. Which amounts to STEALING in my book. And that is stealing according to the proper definition of the word, i.e. someone has lost something and Paypal has enriched itself at the expense of others.

    There needs to be a non-US alternative to Paypal, clearly this company can not be trusted with your money.

     

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      Chargone (profile), Dec 6th, 2010 @ 12:39pm

      Re: Does paypal keep the money?

      actually, the one time i was going to pay for something using paypal, i actually read their ToS.

      they're quite sneaky.

      what it actually says is 'you give us money. we give you ownership of 'paypal dollars'. that is the product. transaction over'

      there is Nothing in it stopping them from taking your money and running. the ONLY thing that stops them is that then Other people would hear about it and not give them money.

      they've been known to freeze the accounts of religious organizations because the documentation the system produces for the sale includes the word 'jesus', which counts as proselytizing(i have no idea if that's the right spelling of the right word or not...) wonderful. too bad if it's simply the fact that the word was in the title of a book you sold someone and thus shows up on the receipt, or your organization has the word in the name... they freeze the account and are under no obligation to give you back ANYTHING.

      you could sue them, but you DID sign the contract agreeing to those terms. it's quite ridiculous.

      which is why i never did end up using paypal to buy things (well, except in instances where they were being used as a credit card processor... and even then i think the people using their service are silly)

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2010 @ 7:17am

    Valerie Plame anyone?

    It's funny how you guys all bash governments for wanting to stop secret info from getting out, but you were probably all the first to bash the Bush administration when Valerie Plame was "Outed" as a CIA agent. You all don't seem to worry too much about how Wikileaks may actually hurt real people mentioned in any of these documents good or bad. Better hope your name doesn't come up in one.

     

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      Richard Kulawiec, Dec 6th, 2010 @ 7:42am

      Re: Valerie Plame anyone?

      1. As I pointed out elsewhere, people die for lies EVERY DAMN DAY. Sometimes they die in large numbers. (How many have died in Iraq over the past 7 years for a lie? Half a million? More?) That's not a hypothetical conjecture about a future event: it's history. It's already happened today. So I think prattling on about how it's possible that someone might die in the future because of the truth is ridiculous given the appallingly large number of those who have already died for lies. Where is your concern for them, and where is your outrage for the liars who got them killed?

      2. But let's run with that hypothetical: suppose somebody, somewhere, dies because the truth came out. Should we then make every effort to conceal every possible fact, ever possible fact, because somewhere somehow somebody might suffer adverse consequences? Should we deliberately blind ourselves to what governments and corporations are doing because someone might get hurt? (Note: they have absolutely no intention of doing so; they're knocking themselves out to do precisely the opposite.)

      3. Again, let's run with that hypothetical: suppose someone dies because the truth is exposed. Whose fault is that? Think carefully before you answer because there's plenty of responsibility to go around in such a case, starting with "the people who chose to kill them".

      4. Governments and corporations have grown content that they can practice institutionalized deception and concealment -- and they're quite willing to risk the lives of their employees on it. That's coming to an end: dangling someone out there by the thread called 'secrecy' is fast becoming an extremely stupid practice.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2010 @ 8:01am

      Re: Valerie Plame anyone?

      Show us where Wikileaks has actually hurt people thus far. People may get hurt driving a car too, but you don't see the government trying to shut down GM.

       

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    Hephaestus (profile), Dec 6th, 2010 @ 7:23am

    Just a minor annoyance in the scheme of things

    Truthfully it doesn't matter. WikiLeaks is being moved to or has moved to pirate party based servers, and the donation - support piece is also being taken care of. So in the end the political influence being used to shut down these services to WikiLeaks end up being nothing but an minor annoyance.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2010 @ 7:59am

    I'd love to see what happened if the government effectively tried to shutdown CNN or the NY Times...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2010 @ 8:31am

    I am curious if anyone here sees any downside to some of what WikiLeaks has been doing?

     

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    The eejit (profile), Dec 6th, 2010 @ 8:40am

    A quick update - Assange has had an arrest warrant and extradition request for the US handed to Scotland Yard by the EU.

    In addition, the Swiss Post Office has frozen Assange's personal account 'pending criminal investigation'. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-11929034

     

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    Hephaestus (profile), Dec 6th, 2010 @ 9:18am

    Does anyone remember this?

    "A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace

    Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind. On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather."

     

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    Oy, Dec 6th, 2010 @ 10:48am

    Funny?

    Funny is the LAST way I'd describe the erosion of our free speech guarantees. I don't think the powers that be would be reacting very differently if the publisher were American vs. Australian. If anything, their reaction may have been far more severe if Assange were American. Soon the phrase 'Home of the free' may make me retch.

     

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      ignonrant_, Dec 6th, 2010 @ 11:25am

      Re: Funny?

      Yes. That is not funny at all.

      If you were referring to my "funny", I was referring to the lawsuit, not the "erosion of our free speech guarantees". Clearly, the lawsuit is frivolous.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2010 @ 1:16pm

    Paypal account closed
    reason given
    wikileaks

     

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