Wikileaks and Anonymous go head-to-head in 'paywall' battle

After the hacking group lashed out at Wikileaks for using a donation overlay page on its Global Intelligence Files, the organization acquiesces and takes down the page.

Anonymous is typically a big fan of Wikileaks and its founder, Julian Assange, but earlier today, several of its members sent out tweets calling for people to stop donating to the site until further notice.

A Twitter tit-for-tat ensued and finally ended in what looks like a success for Anonymous.

What got the online hacker group all riled up was an overlay donation page that was first seen when accessing Wikileaks' Global Intelligence Files, according to The Next Web. These files contain more than five million emails from the international intelligence company Stratfor.

Anonymous publicly labeled the donation page a "paywall" and demanded it be taken down.

"We call on @WikiLeaks to change their current set up to force donations. #InformationWantsToBeFree," it tweeted.

Wikileaks' donation page, however, didn't obligate anyone to pay anything before accessing its millions of files. "A tweet, share, wait or donate campaign is not a 'paywall,' the organization tweeted back.

Wikileaks has been hard up for cash for the last couple of years. Several major credit card and finance companies have banned any donations to the organization. In 2010, MasterCard, Visa, and PayPal cut off access to WikiLeaks as a way to prevent people from donating money to the site.

What's interesting is that Anonymous knows better than anyone how badly Wikileaks needs funding to keep its gig going. When the credit card companies pulled the plug on Wikileaks, Anonymous tried to come to the rescue by launching distributed denial of service attacks on the three companies' Web sites.

As of this writing, it seems like Anonymous has won its small battle against Wikileaks. The "paywall" has now disappeared from the Global Intelligence Files page and several people are tweeting that they no longer see the donation overlay page either.