April 26, 2013
Laguna Beach chef named in hacked information obtained from Hudson Valley, a leading domestic supplier of foie gras. The hacked information targets customers in California, where the sale of foie gras is banned.
Hudson Valley, a leading U.S. supplier of foie gras, confirmed Thursday that its website has been hacked by an activist who is distributing private client information – including credit card purchases and cellphone numbers – to animal rights groups via the Internet.
The leaked information targets Hudson Valley customers in California, where the sale or production of foie gras is banned. Laguna Beach chef Amar Santana, who has been vocal about his previous use of foie gras, said he has been getting harassing calls since the information went public Wednesday.
“These people have gone too far,” said Santana, chef-owner of Broadway by Amar Santana.
Marcus Henley, operations manager at New York-based Hudson Valley, said state and federal authorities are investigating the hacking. Beyond that, he said Hudson Valley doesn’t “have a response at this time.”
Santana said he learned about the hacking Wednesday after he began receiving attack calls on his cellphone. The calls prompted him to search the Internet, where he discovered the “hacked Hudson Valley” client list posted on two websites: North American Animal Liberation Press Office and No Negotiation Is Over!
The hacker stated: “We temporarily took down their website (hudsonvalleyfoiegras.com) and online store, and uncovered name/address/phone number/credit card details for over 1,200 customers who purchased foie gras and duck flesh products between June 2012 and April 2013.”
For Santana, the information listed described how much money he spent on foie gras and what type of credit card he used on the March purchase. Other customers named were from Los Angeles and La Quinta.
Jerry W. Vlasak, press officer for the American Animal Liberation in Los Angeles, said his organization received the hacked information from an anonymous activist. He said the website routinely publishes “underground” information from unnamed sources who are fighting to stop animal cruelty. He said his group doesn’t pursue getting names from those committing illegal acts.
“The people who are doing this are breaking the law,” Vlasak said.
Chef Ken Frank, an opponent of the California foie gras ban, called the hacking shameful. He is not named in the list, but he has been vocal about serving foie gras for free in his Napa restaurant.
“The activists are a shame on our great nation where we should respect each other’s right to choose what we eat, who we marry, what we read and what we say, without fear of intimidation or reprisal,” Frank said.
Santana said organizations posting the illegally obtained information are invading his privacy.
“I strongly believe these people are out control,” he said. “We are talking about ducks. They are raised to be eaten. It is illegal to sell it or whatever, but you are telling me is it is OK to blast personal information like that online? That is more illegal than anything else.”
Vlasak said he doesn’t care.
“As long as he is complicit in animal cruelty, I don’t particularly care what he thinks,” he said. “As a press organization, we are just passing along information made public and which exists elsewhere in the public domain. As someone who buys and sells foie gras, he is responsible for the untold suffering of ducks and geese who are mistreated and then killed to produce a delicacy for the rich.”
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