U.S. Criminally Charges EBay in Cyberstalking Case

The Justice Department charged eBay on Thursday with stalking, witness tampering and obstruction of justice in a rare criminal case against a well-known Silicon Valley company.

The charges, which will be dropped under a deferred prosecution agreement if eBay maintains a good record for the next three years, stem from actions taken by the company in 2019 to undermine and silence the writers of an e-commerce newsletter that was mildly critical of some of its behavior. The intimidation efforts included various forms of cyberstalking and harassment that were continuing when the perpetrators were arrested.

In its agreement with the government, eBay will engage an independent corporate compliance monitor. It also agreed to pay a criminal penalty of $3 million, the maximum fine for its six felony offenses. The government will not move ahead with the case unless the company violates the agreement.

Although the money is inconsequential for a company that had more than $5 billion cash on hand in its most recent quarter, the notoriety is not.

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