Alleged 'Anonymous 14' plead innocent to PayPal DDoS

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Fourteen individuals believed to be part of the hacktivist group Anonymous pleaded innocent on Thursday in federal court in San Jose, Calif  to charges of participating in an attack against PayPal.

The defendants, mostly twenty-somethings who live in nine states and the District of Columbia, are facing felony charges of damaging a protected computer and conspiracy for allegedly launching distributed denial-of-service attacks against the PayPal site. The attack was launched late last year out of retaliation for the online payment service company's decision to cut ties with WikiLeaks after the whistleblower group published secret U.S. diplomatic cables.

FBI agents arrested the 14 alleged Anonymous members in July.

During their arraignments Thursday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Grewal, the defendants entered their pleas and agreed to conditions of their release, including strict limits on internet usage. The defendants are barred from using the internet, except for work, school and communicating with attorneys. They have also been banned from using internet relay chat (IRC) and Twitter – both popular modes of communication among Anonymous members.

Their next court date is scheduled for Nov. 1.

The charge of intentionally damaging a protected computer carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, as well as a fine of $250,000. Each count of conspiracy carries a maximum prison term of five years and a $250,000 fine. 

MORE: View a Department of Justice press release from July announcing the arrests and names of the defendants

Court staff prepared for possible protests by Anonymous supporters Thursday, according to a CNET News report. Several deputy U.S. Marshals were present inside and outside of the courtroom, though no protesters showed up.

Anonymous members, however, claimed responsibility the same day for taking down the website of the federal appeals court in San Francisco.

“You argue civil disobedience is cyber terrorism,” the group wrote in a tweet. “We think not.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. isn't the only country cracking down on Anonymous.

British police on Thursday arrested two men in connection with attacks launched by Anonymous and its sister hacking group LulzSec.

Specifically, the arrests were related to acts carried out by a hacker using the alias “Kayla,” who is considered to be a key LulzSec member. The two unnamed men, aged 20 and 24, were arrested separately in Yorkshire and Wiltshire, England, London's Metropolitan Police said in a news release.

The arrests were made in cooperation with the FBI as part of an ongoing investigation into the activities of the hacker groups.

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