The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

DDOS Attacks Effective: Omidyar

So, the CEO of EBay, parent company of PayPal, writes to suggest leniency in the punishment of the people accused of running a denial of service attack against PayPal because of PayPal’s boycott of Wikileaks.  His claims of powerlessness, of being against PayPal’s boycott but unable to do anything about it are amusing, but as a commenter to his post notes, what is interesting is his confirmation that DDOS attacks actually inflict costs, unlike normal protests:

If we want to make parallels between real-world protests and online protests, that means that one thousand people can have the effect of six million people demonstrating in front of your office. That seems like an excessive impact in the hands of each person. It’s like each protester can bring along 6,000 phantom friends without going to the trouble of convincing each of them to take an afternoon off and join the protest in the street.

That’s why I’ve concluded that the use of these attack tools is vastly different than other forms of protest.

Normal protests don’t get to 6 million except in extraordinary circumstances.  What he really means is “this works, this inflicts actual costs.”

As for all the apologetics for PayPal, MasterCard and Visa, I note simply that American Express did not cut off Wikileaks.  I guess a major multinational can resist the Federal government if it chooses?  Anyone aware of any harm AmEx has suffered due to not cutting Wikileaks off?

I want to remind readers of a simple rule: your Lords and Masters respond only to pain and personal inconvenience.  Either you must cost them real money, or you must get in their personal space in a way they can’t ignore.  Gays got much of what they wanted from Obama because they heckled him in person, and they cut off the money.

The people involved in the DDOS will receive vastly disproportionate sentences, it will be interesting to see how many receive more jail time than the average rapist.  Meanwhile, those who caused the financial collapse by acting in clearly fraudulent ways, costing the economy trillions of dollars, continue to go unpunished and live the high life.

Law that is selectively enforced cannot make even the slightest claim to be just.  If we had a legal system that came down on everyone like a ton of bricks, one could say “well, I don’t agree, but they are just enforcing the law”.

Maybe I’ll live in such a country before I die.



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  1. Compound F

    Firebrand. Smart. Never trivial. A real Troublemaker.

    Ladies & Gents, Ian Welsh.

  2. John

    Lord Omidyar’s free speech dollars vastly outnumber your dollars of free speech…but I guess that type of multiplier effect is ok since the Lords and Barons of the US Court Supreme have said so…so even the kinder and gentler Lord and Master (Omidyar) says: just suck on it, serf…know your place or suffer the consequences.

  3. Everythings Jake

    Much of what we gays got from Obama was simply better PR. He left most of the lifting to those outside the administration. Gay men like Ken Mehlman had made significant inroads in moving the Republican party off the issue, and everyone knew the case of marriage was headed to the Supreme Court. In turn, the gay community, at least the wealthy gay community, had long since abandoned connection and support for a much broader movement for justice, not just for gays, coming out of the 1970s under leaders like Harvey Milk.

    Also, Obama’s PR was always calculated, I think to assuage liberal concerns about more horrendous violations of civil liberties revealed in the same week. I tracked for a while, became dismayed, and stopped following the trend, but it was revelation of drone assassination program (in the quoting senior White House officials kind of way while the White House continued to deny) partnered with gays had hospital visitation rights. When Obama said his position on marriage had evolved, it definitely didn’t merit Andrew Sullivan’s weeping my Obama Daddy loves me routine.

    None of that’s to disprove your larger point, just to note that (1) much was traded off for the benefit of a few: it’s heartbreaking to watch men and women who do not belong to the gay white 1% or the professional queer set come to meetings and wonder why they are asked to show up for marriage and the community never in turn shows up for the continuing crisis that is securing a right to housing, a right not to be fired, etc.; and (2) the devil will only cede the least he can, and if that’s just enough to get you to view the shit they dump on you as flowers, that’s exactly what you’ll get.

  4. wendy davis

    It’s certainly tangential to your ‘give them pain where it hurts most’ meme, but Omidyar’s claim in the HuffPo piece that PayPal had suspended Wikileaks’ account ‘for a few months’ was dubious at best, a lie at worst. Knowing that Wikileaks sure believed the embargo was ongoing, last time I’d provided a link to contributing to the organization I used the page at Freedom of the Press Foundation instead of their page that did in fact have PayPal as an option.

    Thus, after reading Pierre’s piece, I looked at WL’s Twitter thingie, and found this interesting discussion yesterday in which he claims ignorance, the misdirects the issue.

  5. David Kowalski

    One other benefit that large corporations and the extremely rich (beyond the !%) have is the ability to match and exceed the governments (federal, state, local) in legal expenditures. That manifests in snowing “prosecution” under tons of paper, timewasting motions, and much more. They also, frankly, can afford to hire more effective lawyers in addition to more lawyers. In some cases the ego of corporate execs or billionaires (or even poor hundred millionaires) gets in the way.

    As a result, the system is even further distorted. Those prosecuting even have to deal with SLAPs and God knows what else is the latest tool of the filthy rich. (in this case filthy means that dirty methods are encouraged).

  6. John Puma

    Not only do “those who caused the financial collapse by acting in clearly fraudulent ways, costing the economy trillions of dollars, continue to go unpunished and live the high life” but also the companies through which they committed their crimes and destruction have gotten about a $trillion/year to keep them from failing.

    … presumably from failing to concoct and commit the next global financial atrocity.

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