PKP stands in solidarity with victims of online harassment

February 1st, 2017 by  | 1 Comment






For the past few years, our organization, its team members, and individuals in our user community have been subjected to online harassment by, we have reasonable grounds to believe, an individual who claims PKP is attempting to destroy their business (even though their business relies on the open source software PKP maintains). We have been collectively and personally accused of having done all sorts of inappropriate and even illegal acts, with these claims made through a combination of fake websites and Twitter accounts, with additional sites registered with domain names that suggest further personal attacks. Even though most people that see these claims would dismiss them outright, these activities undermine our credibility, dealing with them is annoying, and they take up valuable time.

It is frustrating that we have not been able to stop the harassment campaign against us and our user community despite the fact we are a tech-savvy group that is very knowledgeable about online environments and comfortable working in them. We have been documenting these incidents and have had some success in having the more extreme tweets and twitter accounts deleted. The harassment is more than a nuisance. We are deeply troubled by how it has emotionally affected some members of our community who have seen this harassment extended to them or others close to them simply for responding and expressing their support for PKP.

We write this because the experience has been incredibly eye opening, and want to affirm that we stand in solidarity with anyone who is the victim of cyber-bullying or online harassment.  Being subjected to it ourselves, we are now acutely aware of the limitations of law enforcement in maintaining a civil cyberspace, and of the need to create mechanisms for curtailing the damage done by such behaviour.  There are steps that everyone should consider following, both as proactive and responsive measures, to address instances of online harassment.  An online search for “cyberharassment” or “cyberbullying” is a good starting point, and will provide useful guides on steps one can take to counter such attacks.  There are also many websites that will provide information on how and where to report this activity, but remember it will only apply to a specific country or legal jurisdiction.  We are including a few links below only as representative examples:  

http://www.cbabc.org/For-the-Public/Dial-A-Law/Scripts/Criminal-Law/206

https://www.justice.gov/criminal-ccips/reporting-computer-internet-related-or-intellectual-property-crime

https://www.apc.org/en/pubs/issue/how-avoid-becoming-cyberstalking-victim

http://www.crashoverridenetwork.com/index.html

A number of us have individually made a donation to several organizations working on this issue and we invite you to consider making a similar donation.

One Comment on "PKP stands in solidarity with victims of online harassment"

  1. Jacob Amar says:

    To whom it may concern,

    I am a recipient of one of the letters sent from the individual/business referenced in this post. If you have received one of these letters, I urge you to read my response, parahraph by paragraph, below:

    First, in every one of the threads linked in the e-mail, there are specific interactions between OJS Tech Support and the individuals who have had their journals hacked. In almost all cases, the issue seemed to be based on an issue with initial set-up. As such, I have a very hard time believing that PKP is “denying a security vulnerability” when the very threads that are linked below are specific directions and responses from PKP on how to fix and avoid said security vulnerabilities. If PKP were actually denying a security issue, those threads would have been removed and archived once the issue had been dealt with. By the e-mail sender’s own admission, PKP even makes mention of potential security vulnerability on their own sites, and frankly, that is simply the reality with any kind of website or online interaction. If Apple and Microsoft experience security issues with multi-billion dollar per year profits, then an open-source development software run by universities is absolutely going to be in the same boat.

    Secondly, I don’t believe that a development blog is a place to discuss security vulnerabilities, especially considering that publicizing a security vulnerability is a great way to let black-hat hackers know there is an issue with your system. It would be tantamount to writing a letter to a hacker saying “Hi guys, this is where our system is currently weak!”. It would be counter-productive, and allow black-hat hackers to more easily access private information using these back doors.

    Third, I have done a complete web-search/social media search of the PKP Twitter account, website, and social media platforms for any negative/defamatory mention of of the attacker, and there is not a single mention of them whatsoever, either positive or negative.
    Nor is an unverfied cease and desist letter proof of systematic harassment. I have a very hard time believing that a multi-university open-source project is engaging in systematic harassment with the goal of eliminating a competitor. It should also be noted that this company sells OJS 2.0 and 3.0 hosting services, and have only existed since 2013, which means that they likely contacted PKP about becoming subcontractors/web-hosters, and were denied, because PKP already provides the hosting service and IT support services without the additional $700-900 USD/year price tag.

    Having dealt with the representatives and tech support of PKP for almost two years now, and knowing their multi-university open-source approach, I’ve found them to be completely trustworthy, helpful, and having gone above and beyond the call of duty to ensure we are happy with their products and their support. I strongly believe that the person/business sending these messages are the ones doing the systematic harassment, defamation and social media attacks, and that this e-mail is part of that campaign. I am of the opinion that there is nothing of substance in the e-mail, and highly recommend that all PKP customers and supporters choose to unsubscribe and block this malicious sender.

    Please know that you have my full support and recommendations, and I’m sorry to hear that these behaviours are affecting the emotional well-being of your staff.

    Thank you and all the best.

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