Why did PayPal ditch WikiLeaks? The State Department asked it to.

PayPal cut off WikiLeaks this week, at the request of the US State Department, according to a PayPal executive.

WikiLeaks has seen corporate support for its practices slip away in recents weeks. First Amazon, and then PayPal, and now MasterCard and Visa have all severed ties with WikiLeaks.

Wikileaks is facing pressure and accusations of illegal behavior from a number of directions due to the data it has been leaking, but things got more serious when the site’s revenue streams started getting cut off. MasterCard and PayPal both froze the accounts of Wikileaks with no solid legal reasons given.

Osama Bedier, VP of Platform at PayPal, then took to the stage at Le Web’10, and the first question he got asked by freelance journalist Milo Yiannopoulos was why PayPal cut off Wikileaks?

Bedier’s answer was simple and to the point:

State Dept told us these were illegal activities. It was straightforward. We first comply with regulations around the world making sure that we protect our brand.

While there are lots of accusations flying around, no court has yet brought charges of illegal activity against Wikileaks as far as we know. Julian Assange is currently in custody, but only on charges of sexual assualt which he intends to fight.

Read more at TechCrunch

Related: WikiLeaks and Amazon: A free speech issue?

Matthew’s Opinion

Regardless of what you think of Wikileaks and its recent actions, the problem I have with this is that action is being taken without the proper legal channels being followed. The State Department contacted PayPal and told them Wikileaks is performing illegal activities. Then without further questioning or an independent look at the facts PayPal cut off the site.

As a service many individuals and businesses rely on for revenue, it’s worrying that PayPal took this action. Yes, it’s the State Department, and yes, Wikileaks is all over the news at the moment, but PayPal should remain independent and react only to facts, not requests. The same is true of any service working with Wikileaks or any other organization that has question marks hanging over its practices.

Bedier stated the decision was made to protect the PayPal brand, but I think it did the complete opposite. PayPal’s brand has been tarnished by not remaining independent. The only thing it can do now is reactivate the Wikileaks account until such a time that a U.S. court deems the site illegal.

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