Further Interlude: No One Is Going To Be Naming Their Baby After PayPal, Part 1

Unfortunately, I find I must go off the program for a moment, Internet…


This is pretty bad, but I can’t whip much up about it at the moment.  I just found out about it.  It’s quite a serious development.  But I haven’t fully digested it yet…

…Just enough to notice that the two web-based enterprises I was about to engage in are now dead in the water, because their payment methods have been grotesquely politicized.  And, is this just the leading edge?  Actually the leading edge was when MasterCard and Visa and Twitter and PayPal all cut off funding/communications avenues for Wikileaks…then when PayPal started to cut the services of people who had supported Wikileaks through them in the past

So, no:  not the leading edge.  But it’s probably the bleeding edge, isn’t it?

And, just on a personal note (as crudely self-serving as that may sound, but I’ll definitely be coming back to this later!), what it means in practical terms for me is that I can’t use PayPal even if I wanted to (which I am beginning to think I REALLY DON’T), without opening the door to them trashing my web-based business for unanticipated, undeclared and probably unsavoury reasons of their own at any time in the future.  So to deal with PayPal, it seems multiple redundancies are required — or a willingness to try and think what PayPal thinks about politics and freedom of speech, and think like that too.  Ahhh, of course, of course…because it isn’t enough to fear Big Brother, is it?  To be safe, one must love Big Brother…

So the only answer that makes any sense is:  don’t use fucking PayPal.  I’m SHOCKED by this, and you should be too.  And we will come back to it.  But in the meantime you’d better keep your ear to the ground, because PayPal just became a straight-up anti-democratic force on the Internet.  We’re not talking about bleeping dirty words, here.  We’re talking about shutting shit down, and clearing the fucking square.  And would you care to say where that’s bound to stop?

When already you can’t raise money for someone’s legal defence, if PayPal doesn’t like that person.  Doesn’t even matter if they think they’re guilty or innocent.  Think about that.

Do something about that.

3 responses to “Further Interlude: No One Is Going To Be Naming Their Baby After PayPal, Part 1

  1. Yeah, this. It must be said, there is a new development:


    The guy who describes this as not so much a victory but a cautionary tale has it exactly right. That an unexpected outcry and the threat of adverse publicity can still frighten a corporation into reversing itself is obviously better than nothing, but the fact that it was needed in the first place is the scary part. Glenn Greenwald writes about fielding questions from folks who want to donate to Manning’s support but are afraid doing so will put them on some future list of known subversives — and the mere fact that people consider this a possibility means the damage has already been done. As of now, we have absolutely no reason to believe that PayPal won’t hand over a list of our names to the government upon request, so the fear is legitimate.

  2. Yeah, exactly. It’s a totally sane concern, which I guess is why I jumped immediately to a “what it means for me” thing…because it really, really does, and that’s a fact very important to know. PayPal can act to “unlevel” the playing field, and for all the bad (true) things I say about Facebook that makes PayPal worse, as Facebook is not actively using its position in the marketplace to undermine and chill democratic dissent…and PayPal, obviously, is doing just that. It’s really bad, not just “oops sorry, our mistake, call it a mulligan” bad. It’s so bad I think a word for it was coined in the Thirties sometime. It directly and immediately threatens all of us, and it should be talked about and talked about and talked about and bloody well talked about as loudly as possible. A little while ago I was talking about how the Western governments don’t really have a lot of tools for breaking up “cyber” demonstrations, “virtual” riots if you will…they have tools for plucking people out of crowds and hustling them into police cars, but nothing like “online tear gas” that they can deploy without making a general political declaration of a clearly anti-democratic kind…except, of course, for the Patriot Act. And I still think this is true, but I’m now seeing a real deadly danger in it, because though the government isn’t in possession of “cyber rubber bullets” that doesn’t mean they’re not out there. Credit card companies and banks and basically any private agencies that facilitate moving money around on the Internet can easily disperse a virtual mob if they choose to, just so long as they haven’t been explicitly directed to do so by an order of the government. As can social media juggernauts like Facebook and Twitter, and of course ISPs may do the same. But they haven’t, at least not as bare-facedly as PayPal has. They’ve all been very, very bad, and I don’t mean to let them off the hook for that…but PayPal’s taken it a big step further, and really defined where the line is.

    The thing is, though…part of that is that in the current political climate those other entities would be courting disaster to try it. However if PayPal can successfully “take a mulligan” on what they’ve done here, the perception of risk for those other groups could change. Which means the perception of risk for us could change. And that would be bad like crossing the streams bad.

    Sorry, just had to dash that off quickly…hope it wasn’t too garbled, more to come…

  3. Needless to say I’m glad Paypal reversed themselves in this case. But I note your implication there Richard, that it’s almost a bit surprising in 2011 that companies feel they have to apologize and back down. Surely the eventual idea, encouraged by your government and mine lo these last three decades, is that the apology ought to be inversely proportional to the outrage?

    Christ, I’m really worried about this. Would everyone please write a post about it? I do not ask you to go out in the street with a sign. But it’s not right that PayPal can do something so evil and just be excused on the grounds that “well, you know companies, they’re scamps…!”

    Please write something, everyone within the sound of my voice.

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