Now PayPal cancels account of parents group that fought to keep schools open during Covid as well as the Free Speech Union, MPs hear
MPs have hit back at PayPal after it cancelled the account of a parents group which fought hard to keep schools open during Covid just days after doing the same to the Free Speech Union.
UsForThem was ‘shocked’ to discover that it could not access thousands of pounds of donated money after PayPal suspended its account ‘in accordance with’ the company’s user agreement.
Just last week, PayPal, co-founded by Elon Musk, had controversially shut the accounts of Toby Young’s Free Speech Union as well as his news website, the Daily Sceptic.
But in the latest backlash that PayPal has faced, MPs have hit back insisting that financial technology firms should not lock people out of accounts based on ‘perfectly legal political views’.
At Business Questions, Conservative MP for Devizes Danny Kruger asked: ‘Does she share my deep concern about the decision of PayPal, the online payments company, to cancel the accounts of certain organisations including Us for Them, who campaigned against the Covid lockdowns, and perhaps most ironically the Free Speech Union, who appear to have been targeted because of their views on sex and gender.
Mr Kruger added that as society is moving towards a cashless economy, financial technology firms will form part of the ‘essential infrastructure of ordinary life.’
He added: ‘Will the Government take steps to ensure they cannot discriminate against individuals or organisations on the basis of perfectly legal political views?’
Co-founder of Us For Them Molly Kingsley (pictured) said the group who campaigned for schools to stay open during Covid were ‘taken aback’ by PayPal’s decision to cancel their account which had donations in it
Toby Young (pictured), founder of the Free Speech Union and news and opinion website the Daily Sceptic, has also fallen victim to having his PayPal account cancelled
Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt replied: ‘He may have further information than I do about why PayPal have cancelled the account and that facility from the organisations that he mentions, but from what I understand the Free Speech Union and other organisations are also still in the dark about exactly why they have had those services removed from them despite making great efforts to find out.’
Arabella Skinner (pictured), director of UsForThem, told MailOnline of the group’s ‘shock’ when they were told that their account would be closed by PayPal
Ms Mordaunt described the unexplained withdrawal of services by companies as a ‘common theme amongst our casework’ for many MPs.
Arabella Skinner, director of UsForThem told MailOnline the group was ‘really shocked to receive the email from Paypal’.
‘And given that it has taken the same penal action against a number of prominent non-profit advocacy, campaigning and journalistic groups in the UK it gives the distinct impression that this was a politically motivated coup against campaigning groups who had taken a particular view on controversial topics,’ she said.
‘Reasoned, two-sided debate is essential to a functioning democracy, and there should be no room for censorship by way of denial of services.’
But Ms Skinner revealed the group were ‘heartened’ to see MPs speaking up about the issue.
‘We are, however, heartened to see MPs rallying to the cause, and we hope that this brings to the fore the question of whether there is an urgent need to bring in heightened safeguards to protect against economic sanctions against companies operating perfectly lawfully,’ she added.
Financial technology giant, which was co-founded by Elon Musk, allegedly closed the accounts ‘in accordance with’ it’s user agreement
Elon Musk (pictured), who made millions from the sale of PayPal to eBay, has since been trying to purchase Twitter in a bid to promote ‘free speech’
Meanwhile Molly Kingsley, co-founder of UsForThem, has responded to the closure of their account, saying the group – who are campaigning for children to be be placed front and centre in all decisions impacting them – were ‘taken aback’ by PayPal’s latest move.
‘No prior warning or meaningful explanation was given, and despite them saying we could withdraw our remaining balance, we cannot,’ she told the Telegraph.
‘UsForThem has only ever been fully transparent about the organisation’s aims, and our mission statement is on a prominent page of our website for all to read.
How PayPal made Elon Musk his millions
Elon Musk first founded the online financial service X.com which took off very quickly, earning more than 200,000 customers in its initial months of operation.
X.com eventually merged with Confinity – who owned PayPal – in 2000 and Musk was replaced as CEO by its founder Peter Thiel.
A re-brand of the company saw X.com change to PayPal, who later sold to eBay for $1.5billion.
Musk, still the largest shareholder in the company at the time, received $175.8million from the sale and he would later go on to co-found SpaceX in 2002 before becoming majority shareholder in Tesla Motors in 2004.
‘That makes clear that our core focus is campaigning for children to be prioritised in public decision-making.’
She has urged the online financial giant to be more ‘transparent’ after their small organisation was impacted hard.
Last Thursday, Mr Young, who set up both the Free Speech Union and the Daily Sceptic news blog, was told last week that three of his PayPal accounts would be closed for violating an ‘acceptable use policy’.
The Free Speech Union defends victims of cancel culture while the Daily Sceptic was set up in April 2020 to scrutinise lockdown.
PayPal did not specify which rule the organisations had broken, but the policy contains numerous ‘prohibited activities’ including transactions involving illegal drugs, stolen goods, or ‘the promotion of hate, violence, racial or other forms of intolerance’.
Mr Young first received notice that his personal account was being suspended.
The account contained £600 and PayPal said it would hold the money for up to 180 days. Mr Young used it to receive payments from European magazines.
Minutes later, PayPal sent the same message to the two organisations Mr Young runs.
PayPal said it would ‘discontinue’ its relationship with account holders found to violate its policies.
It added: ‘Achieving the balance between protecting the ideals of tolerance, diversity and respect for people of all backgrounds and upholding the values of free expression and open dialogue can be difficult, but we do our best to achieve it.’
PayPal has been approached for comment by MailOnline regarding the latest account closures.