PayPal defunds the Free Speech Union in the UK

PayPal says Free Speech Union (UK) has breached its 'Acceptable Use Policy' but no reason is given - go figure!

Press Release – PayPal Demonetises Free Speech Union

PayPal has demonetised the Free Speech Union. It is not uncommon for financial companies like PayPal to withdraw services from individuals or groups who express politically contentious views, but this is the first time an organisation that defends people’s right to express such views has been demonetised. 

This is a new low and takes us one step closer towards a Chinese-style social credit system in which those who do not toe the party line are shut out of the financial system.

The Free Speech Union was notified that PayPal was closing its account last Thursday, effective immediately. The reason given was that we had breached the company’s ‘Acceptable Use Policy’, but no detail was provided. 

We contacted a customer service agent, but she could throw no light on the matter. We wrote to the CEO of PayPal UK and the Corporate Affairs Department of PayPal UK and PayPal US, but got no reply. We had effectively been accused, charged, tried, convicted and sentenced in one fell swoop, with no possibility of parole.

Within minutes of receiving this notification, Toby Young, the General Secretary of the Free Speech Union, was also told his personal PayPal account was being shut down, as was the account of the Daily Sceptic, the news publishing website he runs. In every case, the reason given was the same: violating PayPal’s ‘Acceptable Use Policy’. It seems implausible that all three accounts could be guilty of exactly the same offence within minutes of each other. None of the accounts, including Toby’s personal account, which he’s had since 2013, have been told they have breached any of PayPal’s policies before.

We still do not know why, exactly, PayPal closed the FSU’s account, but we suspect it is because someone at PayPal – possibly the entire C-suite – disapproves of some of the people we have defended. PayPal has form when it comes to demonetising points of view it disagrees with, having recently shut down the accounts of the advocacy group UsForThem, as well as the personal account of the gender critical evolutionary biologist Colin Wright, and the account of Gays Against Groomers, an LGB group that opposes the teaching of gender ideology in schools.

About a third of the FSU’s 9,500 members use PayPal to process their membership dues, so this is seriously disruptive. If you are one of those members, you will have already received an email from us with instructions of how to switch to another payment processor. If you haven’t received an email, that means you are not affected and there is no need to do anything. If you think you may have been affected but have not received an email from us, contact us at admin@freespeechunion.org.

We are in the process of considering how to fight back, but at the very least we will be urging the Government to put legal safeguards in place to prevent others being deplatformed in this way. It should be against the law for any financial services company operating in the UK to discriminate against its customers – or potential customers – on the grounds of their political beliefs. If we allow privately-owned corporations to deplatform individuals and organisations whose political views they disagree with, then free speech is effectively over in this country.

You can read more about what has happened in articles by Toby in the Daily Sceptic, the Spectator and the Telegraph.

Interview on GB News here

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© Free Speech Union SA 2021