Anonymous attacks PayPal's share price, legally

Anonymous and LulzSec have joined forces to fight eBay's PayPal payment processing arm, but unlike the company's previous headline-grabbing stunts it's doing so within the letter of the law.

Dubbed 'OpPayPal,' the joint hactivism group's latest campaign is simple: using its not-inconsiderable skills at public relations, it's encouraging users to cancel their PayPal accounts in retaliation the company's decision to block donations to Julian Assange's whistleblowing service WikiLeaks.

The group is also taking revenge for what it claims is PayPal's decision to sic the FBI on the digital posse, resulting in numerous arrests of people believed to be involved in a distributed denial of service attack on the company.

"PayPal continues to withhold funds from WikiLeaks, a beacon of truth in these dark times," the group writes in a message posted to its usual hangout Pastebin. "By simply standing up for ourselves and uniting the people, PayPal still sees it fit to wash its hands of any blame, and instead encourages and assists law enforcement to hunt down participants in the AntiSec movement.

"Quite simply, we, the people, are disgusted with these injustices. We will not sit down and let ourselves be trampled upon by any corporation or government. We are not scared of you, and that is something for you to be scared of. We are not the terrorists here: you are."

Unlike previous 'operations' conducted by the group, this one is wholly above board: sending a message to PayPal not by attacking its servers or infrastructure, but by using consumer power to attack its very market value.

"We encourage anyone using PayPal to immediately close their accounts and consider an alternative," the group writes. "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."

In the hours since the group posted its call to arms, eBay - the corporation which owns PayPal - has seen its share price on the NASDAQ drop by 2.5 per cent, and it continues to fall as we write. This contrasts with a 1.45 per cent gain over the last two days, and the timing appears to indicate it's a direct and immediate result of 'OpPayPal.'

With thousands of followers on social networking sites, it's clear that Anonymous, LulzSec, and others gathered under the AntiSec banner are becoming a force to be reckoned with both inside and outside of the law.

UPDATE 16:38:

PayPal owner eBay's NASDAQ stock price has partially recovered from its initial slump, but is still trading well below yesterday's close. While neither eBay nor PayPal have issued a statement, the company appears to have taken the ability for its users to close their accounts offline. "Yes, it seems PayPal has taken down the online site to close accounts," an Anonymous member has confirmed on Twitter. "Orly? How lame! Well, cancel by phone: +1-888-221-1161"

We have asked PayPal for an explanation for the apparent removal of its users' ability to cancel their accounts through the website, and will add any response we receive to this article.

UPDATE 21:22:

PayPal has denied that it has changed its service in any way due to the actions of Anonymous and LulzSec, claiming that it has at no point removed access to its users' ability to close their accounts. "We haven't seen any changes to our normal operations - including account opening and closing - overnight," a spokesperson told thinq_. At the close of today's NASDAQ trading, eBay's stock was down 3.08 per cent representing a loss in market cap of around $1 billion.