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PayPal reinstates account after accusations of ‘politically motivated’ ban

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Avishek Das/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

PayPal has reinstated the accounts of a free-speech advocacy group after the company was accused of imposing an “orchestrated, politically motivated” ban, reports the Telegraph.

Last month, the payment company shut down the accounts of the Free Speech Union, its founder Toby Young, and his website the Daily Sceptic “with no clear explanation,” the Telegraph wrote at the at time.

Young said he believed the action was driven by political motives and was a “sinister form of cancel culture.”

The Free Speech Union has criticized the teaching of “radical gender theory” through drag queen story hours in British schools. The organization has also reportedly supported people who claim they have lost work for expressing opinions.

“If PayPal had shut down just one of these accounts it’s conceivable it could be because it had violated the company’s Acceptable Use Policy. But it closed all three accounts within minutes of each other, suggesting there’s a more sinister reason,” Young stated. “I suspect it’s because in reality PayPal doesn’t value free expression and open dialogue or the people and organizations that stand up for those principles.”

Paypal’s decision received numerous critiques from British leaders, including members of Parliament. Claire Fox, a member of the House of Lords, said in reference to the banning, “We cannot allow big tech to get away with financially policing opinions by financial bullying.

Fox added, “The idea of placing explicit financial penalties or suspending accounts of groups for perfectly legal political views rings worrying bells — it's like saying you cannot have an account because we saw you on TV. We do not live in that sort of society."

A letter signed by 41 member of Parliament and peers was sent to Mel Stride, the chairman of the Treasury Select Committee, calling for an investigation and accusing PayPal of issuing “private economic sanctions” against groups it disagrees with.

Last week, PayPal said it had decided to reinstate the accounts. A PayPal spokesman said, “PayPal is dedicated to providing safe and affordable financial services to people of all backgrounds with a diversity of views, and we are a strong supporter of freedom of expression and open dialogue.”

Young says he won’t be returning to PayPal any time soon. “I won’t be using PayPal again, at least not until it reinstates all the other people and organizations whose accounts it has closed for political reasons and agrees never to cancel anyone’s accounts for purely political reasons again,” he said.

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