This cut-off more or less left Wikileaks without a means to finance its operations, nor defend its founder, who is under the protection the Ecuador Embassy in London while he avoids extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted to stand trial for alleged crimes.
In the meantime, many of Wikileaks’ supporters became incensed at PayPal for cutting off service. In late November, 2012, it was publicized that a student at Northampton University was the alleged mastermind of the “Anonymous” DDOS (distributed denial of service) attacks to the PayPal system, which cost the company over $5 million to repair. The three co-defendants have already pled guilty and will be sentenced later.
This news is interesting and noteworthy for online business owners on several levels. Whilst I don’t have a fly-on-the-wall at PayPal’s head office, it seems that PayPal in their wisdom have decided to block service for political reasons. PayPal has retorted that their service cannot be used to facilitate payment for illegal services, and for this reason, they suspended service to Wikileaks.
However, as of today, neither the Wikileaks founder nor officers have actually been convicted of any crimes in any courtroom anywhere. Some would argue it was perhaps presumptuous of PayPal to deny service in advance of their client being actually convicted of crimes in a court of law. It was reported in the media that as PayPal is an American company, they are simply following public US sentiment that Wikileaks is an enemy of the State.
I certainly am not one to say whether Wikileaks has done anything wrong as I am not a lawyer and do not have all the evidence before me. My personal policy is “innocent until proven guilty”.
What this whole mess illustrates for your online business is that certain online payment services have very specific inclusion and exclusion criteria. Before you go to the effort to sign up for a service, and add their payment buttons or donate code to your website, online store, shopping cart, or webpage, it behooves you to invest sufficient time and effort in studying the online payment provider’s user agreement to make sure your business model falls within their acceptable guidelines.
Not only would it be frustrating to be denied online payment service once you are up and running with a specific payment provider, but you also may risk forfeit of your earned revenues. At that point, unless you are a large company with a large legal team at your disposal, you might as well kiss that money good-bye.
You can also file complaints with local State/Provincial regulators and Federal regulators who may or may not investigate the matter for you. At the end of the day, you will have either lost your money, or it will take substantial time and effort to secure the return of your funds.
The take away from this post is that if your charity or business is anything out of the mainstream, then take the time to investigate which online payment providers can provide you with reliable service. Read their “Terms of Service” in detail. Send emails and explain the nature of your business and ask the service provider if they will welcome your business model.