Nevermind the Scriptkiddies: Possible Legal Fallout for PayPal, PostFinance (Roundup)
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
The holder of this account is a German nonprofit charity called Wau Holland Foundation (named after Wau Holland, co-founder of the Chaos Computer Club in whose milieu the foundation is largely active). In response to PayPal’s activities, the Wau Holland Foundation on Dec 7 issued a press release in which it bemoaned being cut off from rightfully accessing the ca. 10.000 Euros that had been donated from Friday to Saturday by PayPal’s “arbitrary” decision, that it took PayPal’s published claim that the foundation had supported and promoted illegal activities to be libelous, and that it had authorized its lawyers to take legal steps against PayPal in order to free access to the account and remove the claims regarding the foundation from their weblog.
What happened here is, on November 27th the State Department, the U.S. Government basically, wrote a letter, saying that the WikiLeaks activity were deemed illegal in the United States. And as a result, our policy group had to make the decision of suspending the account.
This statement by Bedier in context with the letter by the State Department, which it released to Reuters who published it on November 28 gave publications like the The Guardian, one of the publishers of the leaks, reason to suspect “an intervention from the US state department” as the motivation behind PayPal’s action, but Bedier seemingly tried to dismiss this notion by pointing out that the letter from the State Department was sent to WikiLeaks, not to PayPal.
PayPal was not contacted by any government organization in the U.S. or abroad. […] Ultimately, our difficult decision was based on a belief that the WikiLeaks website was encouraging sources to release classified material, which is likely a violation of law by the source.
and that PayPal had decided on keeping the account restricted but releasing the remaining funds to the Wau Holland Foundation.
On a related note, on Monday Dec 6, Swiss company PostFinance had published its decision to suspend their account of Julian Assange because of false information regarding his place of residence. Because of their publishing of this decision, a Kanton judge and a Federal attorney are looking into prosecuting PostFinance for violating secrecy of correspondence (see also AFP for a roundup in English)