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Ilhan Omar surprises with reaction to GiveSendGo donor hack: 'Journalists need to do better'

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Scott Eisen/Getty Images

In our hyper-politicized discourse, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) offered on Wednesday what many of her critics may find to be a surprising position: She defended GiveSendGo donors whose privacy was breached and shared on the internet.

What is the background?

After a hacker breached GiveSendGo, the Christian-based crowdfunding platform that was being used to fundraise for the Freedom Convoy protests in Canada, media members on both sides of the border began identifying donors and demanding that they answer for their contributions.

Enter, for example, Tammy Giuliani, owner of Stella Luna Gelato Café in Ottawa. Her business was forced to close due to threats after media revealed that she had contributed $250 to support Freedom Convoy demonstrators.

An editor at the Ottawa Citizen highlighted the story on social media and appeared to suggest that Giuliani was supporting a violent movement — despite the Freedom Convoy protests remaining peaceful, yet politically inconvenient — by noting that Giuliani made her donation when Canadian law enforcement were describing demonstrations as "volatile and dangerous."

At least one reporter from the Washington Post reached out to people whose donation information was illegally breached to ask them why they supported the Freedom Convoy protests.

What did Omar say?

Responding to the ongoing incident, Omar condemned journalists' actions as "unconscionable" and urged them to "do better."

She was specifically responding to the harassment of Giuliani.

"I fail to see why any journalist felt the need to report on a shop owner making such a insignificant donation rather than to get them harassed," Omar said. "It’s unconscionable and journalists need to do better."

While Omar was praised for her response, others pointed out the person she was responding to — the Ottawa Citizen editor — did not personally dox Giuliani.

While that is true, the substance of Omar's criticism also remains true: the media took advantage of an illegal breach of data and began exposing donors of the Freedom Convoy protests, which led to harassment.

Anything else?

GiveSendGo announced Wednesday the introduction of new security measures to prevent further breach of data. The company also confirmed that no money was stolen, and credit card data was not obtained in the hack. So far, more than $9.5 million has been raised for the freedom demonstrators.

Aubrey Cottle, an infamous hacker, has taken credit for hacking GiveSendGo.

"Yes, I tossed the trucker. I hacked GiveSendGo, and I'd do it again. I'd do it a hundred times. I did it. I did it. Come at me. What are you going to do to me?" Cottle admitted in a TikTok video. "I'm literally a famous f***ing cyberterrorist, and you think that you can scare me?"

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