BOSTON — On Wednesday, a Massachusetts couple who were exposed to threats and other strange harassment from former eBay Inc. workers filed a civil complaint against the Silicon Valley behemoth.
In a complaint filed in federal court in Boston, David and Ina Steiner claim that the business conspired to “intimidate, threaten to murder, torture, terrify, stalk, and silence them” in order to “stifle their reporting on eBay.”
The Natick residents, who operate EcommerceBytes, an online journal focusing on the e-commerce business, claim they have been exposed to cyberstalking, death threats, strange deliveries, and in-person monitoring by corporate employees. They’re asking for a jury to award them damages.
In a statement released Wednesday, David Steiner said, “This has been an extremely painful journey for my wife and myself.” “Never in a million years did we think that performing our duties as journalists would lead to this. We want to ensure that reporters’ rights and press freedom are protected. We have been subjected to unspeakable brutality and abuse, and we have feared for our lives. Anyone can be affected by this conduct if it can happen to us.”
eBay representatives did not respond to an email requesting a comment.
Last June, several former eBay workers were charged with harassment for their roles in the campaign. At least five of them have already entered guilty pleas.
According to federal authorities, the harassment included anonymous delivery to the couple’s house of live insects, a death wreath, and a gruesome pig face Halloween costume. The workers also intended to break into the couple’s garage and put a GPS tracker on their car after sending pornographic magazines with the husband’s name on them to their neighbor’s house.
At the time, then-U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Andrew Lelling remarked, “This was a concerted, systematic attempt by top employees of a large business to destroy the life of a couple in Natick simply because they published information that corporate officials didn’t like.”