Paypal blacklists payments for a World Socialists pamphlet about the Iranian opposition


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/03/29/oh-paypal.html


#2

Bureaucracy, thy name is Coward.


#3

I enjoy scents made by a niche perfumier, Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab. In 2012, they released what was called “Single Note Iranian Galbanum” as a limited edition 5ml bottle of perfume. Paypal wouldn’t process any payment to this longtime company for this one item. They had to actually delete the “Iranian” from the name of the perfume for us to be able to buy it using Paypal. In 2012. For a small bottle of perfume.

And Paypal never gave anyone a reason beyond the nonsensical “compliance problem.”


#4

I’m mad as hell and I not going to take it anymore. Back in a few, I need more coffee.


#5

Why can’t paypal just die already? I haven’t used them in years after they decided oh you had a transaction on the card you have registered we don’t like so we are locking your account. You can’t dispute this, you can’t open it back up, thanks for playing, etc.

I have emailed vendors asking if they have other forms of payment after trying to check out and finding paypal only and then had to cancel the order. Cause I am not going to go through the hassle of getting a new card just to use paypal again.

So all I did was buy gas at non usual station that day. Fuck them.


#6

It’s not suppression of free speech because it’s a private company that can choose who it provides service to. /s


#7

This is almost tame by PayPal standards. They froze payments to an Aussie political party for a couple of weeks back in 2015.


#8

Worth noting, FTA

When a Mehring Books representative contacted PayPal’s customer service team on March 27 to inquire about the error message, a PayPal representative confirmed that the pamphlet’s sale had been deliberately blocked because “the government has given us certain policies that we have to block transactions.”

The staff member’s supervisor stated further, “It is something where we can’t change it. You are not going to be allowed to process [sales of the book], based on compliance reasons.” She said she “can’t provide further information” and that Mehring Books would receive no explanation for the action “except via a subpoena.”

This is the response of a customer service call centre shift supervisor. The previous public apology for blocking the photography book has to have come from much higher up the org chart - call centre shift supervisors don’t get to apologize on behalf of billion dollar companies.


#9

Sounds like the government block also includes an inconvenient gag order the prohibits Payapal from discussing the block. Almost certainly overzealous in this case since the mere fact that your payments are blocked are a tipoff that the order is in place. It was probably really easy for the DoJ or whomever to add it too. “To prevent compromise of our sources and methods” or some such nonsense. I blame the judge who looked at it and didn’t push back on the gag order, they’re so unamerican and ripe for abuse that I’d like to think that it gives any judge pause, but sadly the real works is less concerned about these matters than I am.


#10

They claim they are just following orders from the government (of course they could be lying :astonished: ).


#11

Paul Manafort did it.


#12

Now only if newspapers can obtain subpoenas…


#13

Iranian --> Persian
(Problem solved)
(ducks)


#14

Still very creepy considering how many transactions are handled by private companies nowadays.


#15

That or the call center shift supervisor just said whatever they figured would get the annoying person off the phone so their operator could close the ticket.

Actually figuring out how to report an incorrectly blocked payment and who has the authority to override it would take time, and that would affect the shift’s call closure rate, which in turn puts everyone’s performance bonus in jeopardy.


#16

Came here for this.


#17

Oh, no need to duck. :smiley: The Lab just reduced “Iranian” to “I.” for the description/purchase. But the fact that it was just an algorithmic no-go was very annoying.


#18

Jranian


#19

EBay does the same thing with Cuban coins if you try to list them for sale. This includes Cuban coins that were minted in the US, which happened for several years because Cuba didn’t have their own minting facilities. None of the sellers wanting to sell them that I’ve read about are located in Cuba either. It’s also not against the law for regular coin dealers to sell them. It’s purely CYA on the part of eBay.

To be sure, the coin thing doesn’t have the same 1st Amendment implications that the pamphlet describing Iranian socialists does, but the fact that PayPal is enforcing (or thinks they are enforcing) something that came down from DC bureaucrats makes it sound like a 1st Amendment issue to me.


#20

… censoring in free speech paradise? I am shocked! SHOCKED!