On Tuesday, Don HO, the developer of Notepad++, a free GPL source code editor and notepad application for Microsoft Windows, released version 7.8.1, prompting a social media firestorm and a distributed denial of service attack.
Notepad++ v7.8.1 was designated “the Free Uyghur edition,” in reference to the predominantly Muslim ethnic group in western China that faces ongoing human rights violations and persecution at the hands of Beijing.
“The site notepad-plus-plus.org has suffered DDoS attack from 1230 to 1330 Paris time,” HO said in an email to The Register. “I saw the [reduced] amount of visitors via Google analytics then the support of my host confirmed the attack. The DDoS attack has been stopped by an anti-DDoS service provided by our host [Cloudflare].”
A post on the project’s website explains HO’s decision to criticize the Chinese government, something companies with business interests in China generally try not to do for fear of retribution.
“People will tell me again to not mix politics with software/business,” HO’s post says. “Doing so surely impacts the popularity of Notepad++: talking about politics is exactly what software and commercial companies generally try to avoid.”
“The problem is, if we don’t deal with politics, politics will deal with us. We can choose to not act when people are being oppressed, but when it’s our turn to be oppressed, it will be too late and there will be no one for us. You don’t need to be Uyghur or a Muslim to act, you need only to be a human and have empathy for our fellow humans.”