Financial Services Censorship Spreading

A couple of years ago, Paypal (and other financial institutions) excluded certain individuals from their service; it appears that this move was politically motivated:

I don’t know if right-wingers/Alt-Right people were the first to be targeted by this kind of censorship, but it should have been obvious that they wouldn’t be the last. Once Big Tech/Big Banking realized they have this powerful tool at their disposal, it was only a matter of time that they’d expand its use.

The underlying problem isn’t so much that they find certain views objectionable, it’s that they’re power-hungry bullies. If they run out of Alt-Right people to cancel, they’ll move on to someone else.

Right now, that someone else is Larry Brandt. From The Electronic Frontier Foundation:

Larry Brandt, a long-time supporter of internet freedom, used his nearly 20-year-old PayPal account to put his money where his mouth is. His primary use of the payment system was to fund servers to run Tor nodes, routing internet traffic in order to safeguard privacy and avoid country-level censorship. Now Brandt’s PayPal account has been shut down, leaving many questions unanswered and showing how financial censorship can hurt the cause of internet freedom around the world.

Brandt first discovered his PayPal account was restricted in March of 2021. Brandt reported to EFF: “I tried to make a payment to the hosting company for my server lease in Finland.  My account wouldn’t work. I went to my PayPal info page which displayed a large vertical banner announcing my permanent ban. They didn’t attempt to inform me via email or phone—just the banner.”

Brandt was unable to get the issue resolved directly through PayPal, and so he then reached out to EFF…

We reached out to PayPal for clarification, to urge them to reinstate Brandt’s account, and to educate them about Tor and its value in promoting freedom and privacy globally. PayPal denied that the shutdown was related to the concerns about Tor, claiming only that “the situation has been determined appropriately” and refusing to offer a specific explanation. After several weeks, PayPal has still refused to reinstate Brandt’s account.

The Tor Project echoed our concerns, saying in an email: “This is the first time we have heard about financial persecution for defending internet freedom in the Tor community. We’re very concerned about PayPal’s lack of transparency, and we urge them to reinstate this user’s account. Running relays for the Tor network is a daily activity for thousands of volunteers and relay associations around the world. Without them, there is no Tor—and without Tor, millions of users would not have access to the uncensored internet.”

Paypal is deeply invested in China, and the Chinese Communist Party has been working to block Torr for years. I wonder if this has anything to do with Paypal’s decision.

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1 Response to Financial Services Censorship Spreading

  1. Pingback: Word from the Dark Side – venal drug companies, vibrating tanks, vanishing P2P lenders and virus-laced footballs | SovietMen

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