July 27, 2011 at 2:57 PM ET
Hacking group Anonymous is asking PayPal users to "immediately close their accounts and consider an alternative," as a way of protesting the arrests of 14 people tied to a denial-of-service attack on PayPal's website last December. That attack, which brought down the site, was said to be retribution against PayPal for dropping WikiLeaks' donation account.
"In recent weeks, we've found ourselves outraged at the FBI's willingness to arrest and threaten those who are involved in ethical, modern cyber operations," Anonymous said in a statement on public file-sharing site PasteBin:
Law enforcement continues to push its ridiculous rules upon us — Anonymous 'suspects' may face a fine of up to 500,000 USD with the addition of 15 years' jailtime, all for taking part in a historical activist movement. Many of the already-apprehended Anons are being charged with taking part in DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attacks against corrupt and greedy organizations, such as PayPal.
We encourage anyone using PayPal to immediately close their accounts and consider an alternative. The first step to being truly free is not putting one's trust into a company that freezes accounts when it feels like, or when it is pressured by the U.S. government. PayPal's willingness to fold to legislation should be proof enough that they don't deserve the customers they get. They do not deserve your business, and they do not deserve your respect.
According to Anonymous, the protest is working: As of Wednesday morning PT, the group claimed "at least" 35,000 PayPal accounts closed because of its efforts.
A PayPal spokesperson, asked by msnbc.com for comment, said only this: "We haven't seen any changes to our normal operations (including the number of accounts opening or closing).”
Anonymous wants PayPal users to switch to other similar services.
"Get yourself a slice of MyBitCoin, Liberty Reserve, WebMoney, Neteller, Moneybookers, and start using prepaid credit and gift cards," tweeted allied hacking group LulzSec.