Monday, July 26, 2021

Paypal suddenly closes account associated (apparently) with TOR, crypto or other services used to get around censorship (maybe in authoritarian countries)


US Army museum, 2021/7 

Paypal has been willing, in at least one case, to yank services without notice to a customer if that customer’s business exposes Paypal to unusual risk, especially from authoritarian governments or terror or criminal groups associated with them. 

Rainey Reitman explains in a detailed article for Electronic Frontier Foundation in the story about Larry Brandt, who runs servers for TOR nodes. 

TOR is valuable to activists in countries with authoritarian governments, especially radical Islam, communist, military fascist, or some other unusual ideology.  It isn’t hard to see how this could make companies assisting it nervous. Maybe there would be a risk for litigation for money laundering.  

But TOR actually seeks volunteers to run TORrelays.  

Since Charlottesville, some infrastructure companies have shut down hosting, DNS, or financial operations service for persons or groups associated with white supremacy or possibly other extreme ideologies.

There would seem to be a danger that unwillingness to extend services could grow in the future, as “wokeness” tries to hold individuals responsible for unfair advantages, although right now this idea doesn’t seem to be very well orchestrated.  I can think of ideas (outside of blatant CRT demands) how it could be: for example, develop social credit scores based on community engagement, or  demand that persons not use inherited wealth to support their own political causes by ensuring sites are self-supporting.   Big tech has suddenly become sensitive to organized “woke” ideology and its ability to direct boycotts. 

EFF recommends that Paypal follow the Santa Clara Principles, which it doesn’t seem to have done in this case.  

Just today, Reuters reports that Paypal is looking at ways to identify transactions that fund "hate groups" and "extremists".  One problem, the SPLC is a bit ideological in what it thinks is "extremist".  Timcast IRL has a take on this. 

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