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Mon Dec 6 2010 22:34:29

PayPal and Amazon Become Part of Wikileaks Controversy

By: Ina Steiner

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Internet companies and payment processors found themselves in the midst of the controversy swirling around the online publisher Wikileaks, including eBay through its PayPal division, and Amazon.com through its AWS hosting division.

Wikileaks calls itself a non-profit media organization that is dedicated to bringing important news and information to the public. "We provide an innovative, secure and anonymous way for independent sources around the world to leak information to our journalists." While Americans may have thought that meant shining a light on less democratic foreign governments, many of them were aghast to find the site began publishing documents that exposed U.S. military, government and business secrets.

As a result, many people cheered when Amazon.com kicked Wikileaks off of its Amazon Web Services (AWS) infrastructure. After rumors that politicians had pressured it to do so, Amazon issued a statement denying political pressure and reading in part:

"We've been running AWS for over four years and have hundreds of thousands of customers storing all kinds of data on AWS. Some of this data is controversial, and that's perfectly fine. But, when companies or people go about securing and storing large quantities of data that isn't rightfully theirs, and publishing this data without ensuring it won't injure others, it's a violation of our terms of service, and folks need to go operate elsewhere."

PayPal also took action against Wikileaks. In a statement on the PayPal blog on Friday that was closed to comments from readers, PayPal wrote:

"PayPal has permanently restricted the account used by WikiLeaks due to a violation of the PayPal Acceptable Use Policy, which states that our payment service cannot be used for any activities that encourage, promote, facilitate or instruct others to engage in illegal activity. We’ve notified the account holder of this action."

Not everyone agreed it was the right thing for Amazon.com, PayPal, and other service providers to do, and some called for a boycott of the companies (search Twitter for #cablegate #boycott). But they are far from alone in taking action - Declan McCullagh reports in Cnet today that MasterCard has also pulled the plug on payments to WikiLeaks, and a Swiss bank also closed an account belonging to Wikileaks operator.

With funding drying up, we wondered what would happen to the money in Wikileaks' PayPal account. Would PayPal forward the money to Wikileaks, or would it return the money to supporters who had donated it?

A PayPal spokesperson said he could not comment on this specific account due to PayPal's privacy policy and privacy laws, but explained PayPal's general policy:

"When PayPal permanently limits an account due to an Acceptable Use Policy violation, it is the company's policy to hold the funds for a period of 180 days. Once the 180-day timeframe has elapsed, 3 things can happen: 1) The funds are returned to the account holder; 2) A court or government can seize the funds or 3) The funds remain in the PayPal account."

Update 12/9/10: See, "PayPal Targeted in DDOS Attacks as Cyber War Erupts over Wikileaks" - Link to article.




Comments (34) | Permalink

Readers Comments

PayPal and Amazon Become Part of Wikileaks Controversy   PayPal and Amazon Become Part of Wikileaks Controversy

by: tekgems This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Mon Dec 6 22:42:13 2010

Apparently Julian did a very good job of pissing off the US government. Someone needs to keep the government in check because it sure isn't the three branches of government in the USA. I think this is just an inconvenience for Julian. Thankfully, even as we become a cashless society, you can still buy anonymity through gift credit cards.

PayPal and Amazon Become Part of Wikileaks Controversy   PayPal and Amazon Become Part of Wikileaks Controversy

by: freq

Mon Dec 6 23:37:36 2010

You said :
Not everyone agreed it was the right thing for Amazon.com, PayPal

Uh, it's more like MOST everyone. You are biasing the facts. 2% politics vs 98% real people. The real people are for Wikileaks.

PayPal and Amazon Become Part of Wikileaks Controversy   PayPal and Amazon Become Part of Wikileaks Controversy

by: Kicking Ass-ange

Mon Dec 6 23:42:56 2010

I imagine that there were thousands of dollars in Wikileak's Paypal account. 180 days is a nice amount of time to earn interest on that money. Wish Assange had leaked some sensitive info on the scam that eBay/Paypal have going with that float interest.

PayPal and Amazon Become Part of Wikileaks Controversy   PayPal and Amazon Become Part of Wikileaks Controversy

by: Rich

Tue Dec 7 00:19:09 2010

If Wikileaks could get all this classified information from our government sources and all these secret stories; then wouldn't nations like China and Russia and well financed terror groups; also be able to get all this info?   Maybe the real problem isn't Wikileaks, but instead how Wikileaks has been able to get so much of our classified and secret info?

PayPal and Amazon Become Part of Wikileaks Controversy   PayPal and Amazon Become Part of Wikileaks Controversy

by: ZZTopshlf

Tue Dec 7 00:22:11 2010

Lots of people have died or will be dead in the coming days because of ass-ange. Anyone who supports him in this country for what he did is a downright fool and worthless piece of trash just like ass-ange.

We're not playing games here.

PayPal and Amazon Become Part of Wikileaks Controversy   PayPal and Amazon Become Part of Wikileaks Controversy

by: 139dB

Tue Dec 7 02:30:00 2010

What exactly are "activities that encourage, promote, facilitate or instruct others to engage in illegal activity" according to paypal?

What about paypal itself? Aren't they guilty of the same?

ebay and paypal are by far bigger criminals than Assange. You all know it.

Too bad that most of the ebay sellers/users are only concerned about lining their pockets and could not care less about things like freedom of speech or the truth.




"In a free society, we are supposed to know the truth. In a society where truth becomes treason, however, we are in big trouble."
Ron Paul

PayPal and Amazon Become Part of Wikileaks Controversy   PayPal and Amazon Become Part of Wikileaks Controversy

by: You Can't Stand the Truth

Tue Dec 7 02:40:34 2010

If the government and big business didn't lie to us constantly, then the information on Wikileaks wouldn't be a problem.

Looks like PayPal was just lusting after that money in the Wikileaks account. Easy pickings for them!

PayPal and Amazon Become Part of Wikileaks Controversy   PayPal and Amazon Become Part of Wikileaks Controversy

by: itsthebankers

Tue Dec 7 07:07:51 2010

It wasn't these files, but him saying he was going after the bankers next. Don't mess with our masters, they will take you down.

PayPal and Amazon Become Part of Wikileaks Controversy   PayPal and Amazon Become Part of Wikileaks Controversy

by: look around

Tue Dec 7 07:22:24 2010

Just goes to show you how paranoid our government is.

You just have to believe if anything serious happens to Wikileaks that there is someone somewhere with a finger on the send button with all sleeze on the banks.

You think the government has problems now just wait. Wikileaks isn't done yet.

PayPal and Amazon Become Part of Wikileaks Controversy   PayPal and Amazon Become Part of Wikileaks Controversy

by: Dman

Tue Dec 7 08:25:07 2010

I’m hoping Wikileaks doesn’t figure out how to really get back a Paypal.  I’ve heard of  the denial-of-service attacks against Paypal, but that’s just silly.  If you really want to hurt them, just leak a how to document on ripping sellers off. Then spread it to the masses and allow the criminals to take Paypal down for you by creating so many fraudulent transactions that Paypal is no longer a viable payment service and sellers drop it.

Additionally

Freedom of speech will be something our grandchildren will learn about in school, if the government allows it.  It will not be something they experience firsthand.  The elite will silence the poor by controlling information and money. How will you know nearly everyone else feels like you do, if no one is allowed to spread the news. How will you do anything about it, if you’re living month to month?

PayPal and Amazon Become Part of Wikileaks Controversy   PayPal and Amazon Become Part of Wikileaks Controversy

This user has validated their user name. by: permacrisis

Tue Dec 7 09:14:47 2010

Once the 180-day timeframe has elapsed, 3 things can happen:

1) Float

2) Float, or

3) Float."

PayPal and Amazon Become Part of Wikileaks Controversy   PayPal and Amazon Become Part of Wikileaks Controversy

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Tue Dec 7 12:57:12 2010

The most powerful people in the US government have become little more than corporate employees paid as independent contractors.

This episode is just another example of the hand and glove nature between the two.

What's need are several hundred thousand WikiLeaks about how the biggest corporate criminals in the world, ebafia and PayPal, REALLY work.

The symmetry would be perfect.

PayPal and Amazon Become Part of Wikileaks Controversy   PayPal and Amazon Become Part of Wikileaks Controversy

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Tue Dec 7 13:03:39 2010

PayPal will find a way at the end of 180 days to make sure WikiLeaks never sees their money.

Those who have donated to WikiLeaks might try doing a chargeback with their credit cards as long as, the case of Mastercard, the donation predates their ban.

PayPal pays for chargebacks!

PayPal and Amazon Become Part of Wikileaks Controversy   PayPal and Amazon Become Part of Wikileaks Controversy

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Tue Dec 7 13:13:03 2010

@ Dman

"The elite will silence the poor by controlling information and money. How will you know nearly everyone else feels like you do, if no one is allowed to spread the news. How will you do anything about it, if you’re living month to month?"

Precisely! Before Republican president Richard Nixon apppointed him to the US Supreme Court dujing the turbulent 1960s, the Republican William Rehnquist (As I recall it was Rehnquist anyway.) wrote quite an eye opening book about how to prevent dissent.

One of the principal tenets of his book was to impoverish the middle class so they had little leisure time and even less money to engage in political dissent.

With many working multiple jobs for far less than in the 1960s, the traditional middle class is dying and those who've been cast out have little time or money to engage in political dissent.

This is how corporations have taken over this country with help from their bought and paid for government employees in the White House, in Congress, and in the regulatory agencies.

PayPal and Amazon Become Part of Wikileaks Controversy   PayPal and Amazon Become Part of Wikileaks Controversy

This user has validated their user name. by: permacrisis

Tue Dec 7 15:23:04 2010

What we REALLY need on this board is someone to 'pull a WikiLeaks' with regard to the research on ebay conducted by Thomas C Heller and David G Victor of Stanford University. Because Donahoe is a Stanford Man this report, which was due to be published as a book in 2009 and then *nothing*, has simply disappeared. They probably hid it in trade for a big endowment. Bummer... 25,000 user accounts were studied for every metric imaginable. The professors, who normally study whole countries' economies, were intrigued by the underground economy that was the pool of ebay buyers and sellers whom they studied from 1998-2008. If anybody has a link to that report for heavens sake, POST it... Cohen? Pupkin? ANYBODY??

I thought the internet was gonna FIX all these lies and all this crap, for good. Sigh...

PayPal and Amazon Become Part of Wikileaks Controversy   PayPal and Amazon Become Part of Wikileaks Controversy

by: me

Tue Dec 7 16:09:27 2010

State Dept. announces US to host World Press Freedom Day.

http://bit.ly/gdurE8

How's that for comedy?
Did ebay/paypal lend out it's PR team?

PayPal and Amazon Become Part of Wikileaks Controversy   PayPal and Amazon Become Part of Wikileaks Controversy

by: john

Tue Dec 7 20:59:10 2010

Yeah....we need a Wikileaks on Ebay and Paypal.......

PayPal and Amazon Become Part of Wikileaks Controversy   PayPal and Amazon Become Part of Wikileaks Controversy

This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen

Wed Dec 8 02:03:45 2010

Ahhhh, PayPal ...

But all the other unscrupulous/criminal activities that you, and your ugly mother, the eBafia, facilitate on we simple peasants are OK?

“Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel”—Samuel Johnson.

eBay/PayPal/Donahoe: Dead Men Walking.

PayPal and Amazon Become Part of Wikileaks Controversy   PayPal and Amazon Become Part of Wikileaks Controversy

by: carraba

Wed Dec 8 11:46:44 2010

Paypal pulled its support in exchange for the government not investigating its corrupt dealings.

Ya all gotta be a big fish in order to receive this special treatment.

All the little guy can do is pay up and suck it in or the government will toss ya in the can as a spy.

This is the great American free country at work.

PayPal and Amazon Become Part of Wikileaks Controversy   PayPal and Amazon Become Part of Wikileaks Controversy

by: I_aint_saying_who_I_Am

Wed Dec 8 13:38:56 2010

This out on Why Paypal did this - http://www.csmonitor.com/Innovation/Horizons/2010/1208/Why-did-PayPal-
ditch-WikiLeaks-The-State-Department-asked-it-to

Also,
I seem to remember that another website, www.whatreallyhappened.com had the same thing happen to them - going to their website and doing a search for Paypal reveals  a LOT of interesting things  -  check it out

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