Free speech issues say Steiners as they sue eBay and former employees
At a press conference today outside the Moakley Federal Courthouse in Boston MA, Ina and David Steiner said they were sending a message to U.S. companies that it was not acceptable to arm a corporate security team in an attempt to stifle someone’s right to free speech. In the photo above at the press conference, alongside their lawyer Rosemary Scapicchio, the Steiner reminded everyone that free speech in America is of course protected by the First Amendment.
The lawsuit, which had just been filed, names eBay, Devin Wenig, then CEO of eBay, and defendant Steven Wymer, then senior vice president and chief communications officer of eBay and a dozen others as defendants. for orchestrating a systematic campaign to silence them and shutting down Ina and David’s Ecommercebytes blog.
Ina and David have blogged for over twenty years and have reported on eBay and other ecommerce platforms. During Wenig’s tenure at eBay, they weren’t particularly complimentary. It is their right and many of their readers, sellers and ex-sellers on eBay largely agree with their coverage. That didn’t give top eBay executives the right to lose their rag and call their security team to “burn them down.”
This all happened two years ago, just before Wenig abruptly left eBay with little explanation until the scale of the vicious campaign against the Stiener was made public. In 2020, six of the dismissed employees were charged with criminal charges. Devin Wenig was not subject to criminal charges after distancing himself from eBay by acknowledging his unprofessional language, but saying there was no evidence he knew what steps were being taken to attempt to silence bloggers.
“The company noted that the internal investigation also examined what role, if any, the CEO of the company at the time of the incident, Devin Wenig, might have had in this matter. The internal investigation found that while Mr. Wenig’s communications were inappropriate, there was no evidence that he knew in advance or authorized the actions that were subsequently directed against the blogger and her husband. However, as the Company previously announced, a number of considerations led to his departure from the Company. “
– eBay Commentary, 2020
At their press conference today, the Steiner insisted that no one should be able to walk away.
“I want everyone involved to be held accountable. “
– Ina Steiner, press conference, July 21, 2021
It should be noted that the people named in the lawsuit largely worked for eBay’s global security team – not eBay Trust & Safety but the team responsible for executive personal protection and security. physical eBay offices around the world. Some might fear it could happen to them, but it seems to have been personal, with Wenig unable to take the criticism, leading him to let off steam and his security team to take his orders literally. The people involved are no longer part of eBay and all the other eBay employees were genuinely horrified and shocked that something like this could happen in the company they love and work for.