paypal: US censorship imposed via the www

so now its out, paypal has informed me that they have closed down my account for violation of their acceptable usage policy. this is completly outrageous. i am in shock. what this means effectively is that paypal can impose the US’ fashistic censorship laws to websites using a paypal account. just think of the implications…
paypal censors
what happened so far:
in march 2003 i set up a paypal account and introduced a paypal donations button to pieceoBlog – and i must add, a paypal button that literally nobody has ever used. and to be honest, i had added it more because i could, not because i seriously thought somebody would ever use it…
paypal censors
a few people have paid me for dj-mixes via paypal, but never for pieceoBlog. i, on the other hand, have used paypal quite often to make payments or donations to other projects, for scripts or products. all together over $250.00.
paypal censors
a few days ago i tried to make another payment and i found out that my account had been “limited”, meaning i could no longer make payments nor receive them. it informed me in very vague terminology, that i had violated paypal’s “acceptable usage policy”. i tried to find out why. an emailing marathon insued. back and forth.
paypal censors
finally i was informed what the violation was. paypal considered my jackop nosejob project [only click this if you are 18+] to be in violation of said policy, and they asked me to remove “these images” or my account would be closed down. no arguing and, as i would find out later, no other options allowed.
paypal censors
now, they only gave me the url to this page, http://www.web-laun.ch/pieceoBlog/jackonosejob.html [still 18+!], and never sepcified which images they were refering to. they just said “remove these images”. but i guess it was quite clear, that it was the image with the penis[18+] and the one with the vagina[18+] they meant.
paypal censors
the images in question are of course provocative, they are meant to be, and one could definately argue if they are tasteful, i am not even sure i like them any more. but the intention here is and has always been artistic. i think, someone who gets sexually aroused by these images should prolly go see a therapist. they are 100% not meant to be sexually arousing. i consider them “artistic”. paypal considers them pornographic. but as i said earlier, there was no arguing this point with them. you either “Remove those pictures from your website” or we close down your account.
paypal censors
another distinction was never quite made clear to me. in my understanding i was never selling anything, i simply had a donation button. i would define a donation to be something completely volontary between consenting adults. someone chooses to donate money to me, to share the love, is that not different than selling them something? but again, no argueing allowed!
paypal censors
what to do? i was clearly not willing to remove these images. yet i do need a paypal account. its everywhere…
so i decided to remove the paypal button from my website. you can check, it is gone. i took it out. there is currently no reference to the paypal company to be found on pieceoBlog.
i figured, if there is no link from pieceoBlog to paypal they could hardly object to me having certain images on my website. i informed them of this. i even offered them to limit my account so i could only make payments to others and to block my ability to receive funds.
but in response they have closed down my account…
paypal censors
as i said, the implications of this are huge. in many european countries we have much more liberal censorship laws than in the US. i am sure here in switzerland my jacko nosejob project would be considered artistic. but if paypal can impose this kind of thing onto their users, they can bypass local censorship uses, and the much harsher US censorship laws get imposed on the rest of the world – via the glorious www. scary, huh?
paypal censors the www

edit: 10. august 2004 in a surprising new twist i was just informed that my paypal account was reactivated… oh good… but this after i was informed that the decision to close my account was final and could not be appealed against? i am still somewhat puzzled.

About Jan Zuppinger

Jan Zuppinger has been writing this blog since 2002. He likes to grow vegetables. He likes to eat them too. He has opinions on everything, but sadly no one cares. Jan Zuppinger is not joking, just joking, he is joking, just joking, he's not joking. *click.