COMMENTARY |WikiLeaks calls itself a non-profit organization dedicated to providing the public with information and preventing suppression and censorship. With WikiLeaks Julian Assange in jail, WikiLeaks supporters have launched a "cyber war" of sorts known as Operation Payback that has crippled PayPal, Visa, Mastercard and is headed toward Amazon.
Operation Payback was set in motion after WikiLeaks frontman Julian Assange was jailed without bond Tuesday for alleged sex crimes, says the Associated Press on Yahoo! News. Charges against Assange may result in his extradition to Sweden upon his release from jail. However, the real reason for retaliation may be that VISA, Mastercard and PayPal have severed ties with WikiLeaks.
Reuters explains the pull-out:
"U.S. companies are pulling the plug on WikiLeaks and its activists, raising tough questions about cyberspace as a celebrated free speech forum and about government pressure. "
"A Cyber War was declared on Sunday, December 5, 2010 with little result. Then on Wednesday, December 8, 2010 a hive of 5,000 computers staged a full-scale counter-attack against VISA, Mastercard and PayPal that did some more extensive harm. Some VISA and Mastercard payments and transactions appear to be getting through WikiLeaks Operation Payback 'cyber blockade'. Online banking monolith PayPal has been severely crippled however. And media/ shopping mogul Amazon is next on the Operation Payback hit list. "
As an online freelancer, I perform transactions with my PayPal account fairly frequently. I had no trouble logging in to PayPal either on Sunday or on Wednesday. Fellow freelancers complained of website slowness. What we all experienced was that no payments sent from our respective companies and associates were received in our PayPal accounts. Effectively, payments are frozen in a cyber limbo at the time of this writing. PayPal has not communicated with its depositors and it is suspected that crippling has occurred on their end as well. It will be in PayPal's best interest, as well as other users of PayPal sister company and online bidding giant Ebay to resolve this issue with expediency.
WikiLeaks touts a quote about itself by Time Magazine "could become as important a journalistic tool as the Freedom of Information Act."
Here's the mission statement, taken from WikiLeaks website:
"WikiLeaks is a non-profit media organization dedicated to bringing important news and information to the public. We provide an innovative, secure and anonymous way for independent sources around the world to leak information to our journalists. We publish material of ethical, political and historical significance while keeping the identity of our sources anonymous, thus providing a universal way for the revealing of suppressed and censored injustices."
Fine words, but cold comfort, when my bank account, as well as those of countless numbers of writers, freelancers and those who make their living online are compromised. For a self-proclaimed guardian of justice I am one of thousands, possibly millions who are suffering injustice cloaked in shroud of 'free speech'. For a would-be cyber Robin Hood, WikiLeaks and Julian Assange have a lot to answer for.