Quoted: on PayPal and e-book censorship

“Speech on the Internet relies on companies that are supposed to act neutrally. When certain chains in this link suddenly decide to become arbiters of what people read, that’s a problem. This is now affecting individual book readers’ choices.”

Rainey Reitman, activism director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, on PayPal threatening to limit the accounts of publishers and sellers  unless they remove e-books “containing themes of rape, incest, beastiality and underage subjects” from their sites. PayPal has acknowledged sending warning letters to the publishers, according to Reuters. The eBay online-payments company is saying that it is acting to preserve its relationships with its financial institution partners, which insist on barring such content. This wouldn’t be the first time PayPal has stepped onto the Censor Ship. It famously was targeted by Anonymous hackers when it stopped taking donations for whistleblower website WikiLeaks in 2010. (See Finance sites feel the wrath of WikiLeaks backers.) And it pulled but later restored service to a group that was raising funds for Bradley Manning, the Army intelligence analyst accused of providing WikiLeaks with U.S. government documents. (See Censors ship log: Paypal…) And in the era of e-books, in which publishing is more accessible, censorship issues are bound to come up. Amazon.com, for example, had to deal with a book titled The Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure: A Child-Lover’s Code of Conduct. (See Quoted: Did Amazon say one thing and do another?)


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