PayPal could be prevented from banning users over their political views following backlash over its decision to terminate accounts of several conservative groups in the U.K.
The payment services provider included several British groups critical of Boris Johnson’s lockdowns and vaccine mandates during the height of the pandemic. The Free Speech Union, which was established to counter cancel culture and wokeism in British higher education, was also on the receiving end of PayPal’s wrath.
PayPal has refused to say which of its rules the accounts had broken.
PayPal, alongside its subsidiary Venmo, recently suspended accounts belonging to groups like Gays Against Groomers, which is critical of drag queens and the transgender movement in the United States.
Following the backlash, Conservative Party MPs, Michael Gove, David Davis, and Sir Iain Duncan Smith, signed an open letter to Jacob Rees-Mogg’s Business Department calling for the online payment company to be prohibited from discriminating against users for their political views.
The letter states that it is “hard to avoid construing PayPal’s actions as an orchestrated, politically motivated move to silence critical or dissenting views on these topics within the U.K.”
The politicians are calling on ministers to demonstrate the British government’s commitment to free speech by demanding an explanation from PayPal and to take action against it. They have also called on PayPal to release funds it has frozen to the account holders.
Writing in the London Times, Jawad Iqbal highlighted the dangers of allowing PayPal to terminate users based on political beliefs.
“This is censorship by corporate diktat: the company sets its own rules and interprets them as it sees fit. It appears oblivious to the notion that it is wrong in principle to withdraw vital services from people because of their political views. Would it be acceptable for a supermarket to refuse to serve a customer because of their politics or for a high street bank to refuse to make a payment to a company it deemed politically objectionable?” Iqbal wrote.
Following questions asked in Parliament about Paypal, laws could be put into practice that would prohibit PayPal’s discrimination against conservative voices.
“Conservative backbenchers are considering launching an amendment to upcoming financial legislation in the House of Commons that would ban companies from freezing campaigners’ accounts,” the Telegraph reported. “One source said ministers are likely to accept the amendment to the law because Conservative backbenchers will support it.”