PayPal faces UK backlash over account closures

As we reported last week, PayPal has cancelled the accounts of a number of campaigning organizations in the UK, citing its Acceptable Use Policy but without providing a specific reason.

On Friday The Times reported that the fintech giant was poised to back down in the case of parents' group UsForThem, which campaigned for schools to be kept open during the pandemic.

Meanwhile PayPal's actions have sparked a reaction that has seen questions asked in the House of Commons, and a group of MPs considering introducing an amendment to upcoming legislation that would effectively ban companies from freezing campaigners' accounts.

Over 40 MPs and peers have sent a letter to the Business Secretary calling for ministers to intervene. The letter says it is, "hard to avoid construing PayPal's actions as an orchestrated, politically motivated move to silence critical or dissenting views on these topics within the UK".

Action could come in the form of amendments to the Online Safety Bill or the Digital Markets Bill, both of which are currently progressing through parliament.

The Free Speech Union, one of the organizations to have its account closed, has said it intends to lobby the government to have legislation put in place to make it illegal for financial companies to withdraw their services 'for purely political reasons'.

People continue to close their accounts in protest too. High profile figures to have announced the closure of their PayPal accounts in the wake of events include former Olympic swimmer and BBC presenter Sharron Davies, ex-England footballer and commentator Matt le Tissier, and comedian Jack Dee.

There has, so far, been little official response from PayPal. Is it hoping the fuss will die down, or is it beginning to realize it might have shot itself in the foot?

Image credit: ymgerman/

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