Talking LulzSec/Anonymous vs PayPal on TripleJ’s Hack

On Wednesday afternoon, LulzSec and Anonymous joined forces to encourage people to boycott PayPal by withdrawing their money and closing their accounts.

The back story is that PayPal has cut off WikiLeaks’ account, meaning that people could no longer donate money to WikiLeaks via PayPal. Anonymous launched distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks against PayPal. Last week the FBI and others arrested people alleged to have been responsible for those attacks. So this week, the boycott of PayPal.

The joint statement by LulzSec and Anonymous makes for interesting reading. It describes DDoS attacks as “ethical, modern cyber operations”. Such things are actually a criminal act, despite what Anonymous may imagine the law to be. “Law enforcement continues to push its ridiculous rules upon us,” they write, when it’s not law enforcement who makes the laws, but governments.

The call for the boycott was unfolding as Triple J’s current affairs program Hack was going to air, and I phoned in a report. Here’s the audio.

Play

I found it interesting that presenter Tom Tilley responded to my comment that DDoS is a crime by saying “Yeah I imagine there’d be people with lots of different points of view about what they’re doing and whether it’s indeed lawful.”. Personally I reckon the law in this is pretty clear. Pandering to their audience?

The audio is ©2011 Australian Broadcasting Corporation. It has been extracted from the full program audio [MP3].

PayPal’s incompetent compliance arsehattery

You really have to wonder about PayPal. Every day they seamlessly process a squillion pissy little transactions from countless innumerate trailer-trash. Nice work. Then they ruin their reputation with Kafkaesque requests and oddly incompetent “service”. Like now.

“We need your help resolving an issue with your PayPal account,” they emailed me on 9 May. “We need a little more information regarding your organisation, since your PayPal account is registered as a charity or non-profit.” Huh?

As Gary Stark tweeted just now, “You, a non-profit? While that might not be your intention, it’s probably just about right.” That’s true enough. But I’m certainly not a charity or non-profit, I’m certainly not tax-exempt, and I’ve never claimed to be. I’m not even an “organisation”. And have never claimed to be.

By “a little more information” PayPal means photo ID, another document showing my address, a bank statement linking me to my bank account, confirmation that I’m not not a “politically exposed person”, and “organisation and payment information”, whatever that might be. But I’ve been travelling for the last fortnight and I’m not carrying all this stuff.

They’re also asking for one item I’m going to have trouble with. Proof of my tax-exempt status. For no such thing exists. As Leslie Nassar tweeted, “If you can’t prove you’re not who you’re not saying you aren’t, then no Internet Money for you.”

Back on 10 May I emailed service@paypal.com.au to ask why all this was happening. I told them that I’m an individual doing business as a sole trader, and have never claimed to be anything different. I received no response. Typical. My PayPal account is now “limited”. Which means frozen.

This morning I’ve contacted PayPal’s compliance team by both email and fax.

You are asking me to prove my tax-exempt charitable or non-profit status. Why? I am not tax-exempt, non-profit or charitable, and have never claimed to be. Never. An email to service@paypal.com.au on this matter dated 10 May went unanswered. Why? Your demand for proof of tax-exempt status does not include the option “But I am not!” Why? I do expect written answers to these “Why?” questions.

I’ll let you know what happens next. Meanwhile, do feel free to vent your own frustration at PayPal in the comments. I daresay I’m not alone here.

eBay: Not Australia? Let’s try the US!

eBay couldn’t force its Australian sellers to use its wholly-owned PayPal payment service, but that’s not stopping them from trying the same trick in the US.

I wrote about this previously, though I didn’t mention that eBay gave up in face of such clear opposition — the 700+ submitters and the ACCC, that is, not me! However Lauren Weinstein writes that in the US eBay has announced that PayPal (or credit cards) are to be the required mechanism for all transactions.

Continue reading “eBay: Not Australia? Let’s try the US!”

Crikey: eBay Australia: Who? Us? Anti-competitive?

Crikey logo

[This was me in Crikey yesterday.]

Thank the gods I don’t work for the ACCC! The poor sods have to read 700+ public submissions on eBay Australia’s plan to force sellers to use PayPal — which they own. As Crikey reported, this could breach the “third line forcing” provisions of the Trade Practices Act.

Being a lazy geek rather than a tireless public servant, though, I can skim for juicy tidbits. They reveal a widespread fear of eBay bullying.

Continue reading “Crikey: eBay Australia: Who? Us? Anti-competitive?”

eBay responds to 700+ submissions to ACCC

When the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) decided to investigate eBay Australia’s plan to force its sellers to use PayPal for their “protection”, there were more than 700 public submissions. eBay has responded by dismissing the objections.

I’ve written about this at length previously, both here and in Crikey [1, 2], with plenty of interesting comments from readers. And I’ve just written a piece for Crikey today, to be published around 2pm Sydney time.

Meanwhile, you can read some overview pieces at Auction Bytes and The Sheet. And you can see eBay’s full 15-page response at the ACCC website: it’s the second submission on the page, from “Applicant”.

To make things just that little bit more interesting, yesterday Telstra’s Sensis division announced a free auction site at Trading Post.

[Update 1250pm: The story will now run in Crikey tomorrow (Thursday). Busy news day, apparently.]

Am I a hypocrite for using PayPal?

Given what I’ve written about eBay Australia and PayPal recently, is it hypocritical to have added a “donate” button to my website which works through PayPal? I don’t think so. After all, I did say that for small businesses setting up online, PayPal is “often the most cost-effective way to accept credit card payments, and the easiest to set up technically”. And it is. I got that “donate” button set up in 10 minutes. The gripe was about eBay forcing its sellers to use PayPal, which they own. What do you think?