PayPal has come under fire for banning the owner of an organization which protects freedom of speech from using its services.
Toby Young who ran the political campaign group, Free Speech Union and the Daily Sceptic news blog was told by the company that his accounts would be shut down for allegedly breaking its “acceptable use policy”.
The Free Speech Union is a British-based organization which provides support and guidance for those who have been ‘cancelled’ for expressing “wrong” points of view. It is a legal, peaceful and transparent group.
“If you find yourself being targeted by a digital outrage mob on social media for having exercised your right to free speech, we may mobilize an army of supporters,” reads the FSU website.
“If you’re punished by your employer because you’ve exercised your lawful right to free speech, we’ll do our best to provide you with assistance or refer you to specialists who can help.”
Daily Sceptic is a right-leaning news blog originally set up in 2020 by Young to criticize the British government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic and to oppose lockdowns.
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PayPal has not yet issued any explanation as to how Young had been in breach of the company’s rules, but as is usual for online services these days, some of the rules remain very open to interpretation.
Understandably, the company’s terms prohibit the use of its services for transactions involving the sale of illegal drugs and stolen goods, but they also prohibit the “promotion of hate, violence, racial or other forms of intolerance” – which could really mean anything they decide it to mean.
Last night, PayPal said gave a statement to say that by banning Young, it was attempting to “protect the values of tolerance, diversity and respect’ by banning organizations which promote the concept of peaceful free speech for all.
Young laid into the US company to say that it was shutting down private businesses and had “whisked the rug out from under” his companies.
“The withdrawal of financial services from people who challenge the prevailing orthodoxy, whether it’s about teaching primary school children there are 27 different genders or Net Zero, is the new battlefront in the ongoing war against free speech,” said Young.
He went on to say that he feels governments should legislate against companies like PayPal being able to withdraw their services if the client expresses views its owners disagree with:
“The Free Speech Union will be lobbying the Government to put new laws in place to stop companies like PayPal from withdrawing their services from individuals and organizations who say something perfectly lawful but which their employees disagree with.”
PayPal gave Young 180 days to remove any remaining funds from his accounts before they would be shut down. The company also sent emails to the two accounts connected to the Daily Sceptic and the FSU, suggesting that its decision to cancel Young stemmed from his activity within the two groups.
In an official statement, PayPal made its political bigotry clear:
“Achieving the balance between protecting the ideals of tolerance, diversity and respect for people of all backgrounds and upholding the values of free expression and open dialogue can be difficult, but we do our best to achieve it.”