back to article PayPal says sorry: Fat fingers froze fundraiser for anti-spy ProtonMail

PayPal has lifted its embargo on ProtonMail, the Swiss startup raising funds via Indiegogo to build a communications system hardened against surveillance. The payment giant claims the account freeze wasn't a matter of policy, but a simple cock-up. We are happy to announce that @PayPal has restored our account access. Thanks …

  1. Richard Taylor 2 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Oh dear

    Another reason for a multiplicity of healthy methods of getting cash from A to B. Forgetting for the moment the 'error' that caused this, Paypal will naturally be subject to US Laws and/or political pressure. I suspect this is another nail in the coffin of their once dominance.

    1. wolfetone Silver badge

      Re: Oh dear

      Russia definately think so (in regards to VISA and MasterCard), they're setting up their own services a la China and Japan.

  2. Crazy Operations Guy Silver badge

    A fat finger...

    ...at the end of a particularly well-known 'long arm'

    1. Peter Simpson 1
      Thumb Down

      Re: A fat finger...

      Right. And when the company called and asked for an explanation of why the account had been frozen, they were told, on two different occasions, that they needed "permission from the US government" to offer their product

      That doesn't sound like fat-fingering, that sounds like a long arm getting caught in the act.

  3. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Headmaster

    I'm glad this has been clarified then

    What would have to Abdul's the veggie merchant's kickstarter project under the same circumstances?

  4. Not That Andrew

    Just a pity about all the other people and companies whose funds get automatically frozen who can't utilise the outrage of Twitter and Reddit.

  5. Graham Marsden

    And this is why...

    ... I ensure I never let a large balance build up on Paypal, but transfer it out as soon as possible...

  6. Tim Roberts 1

    still waiting ....

    paypaly restricted my accout 6 months ago - i'm still waiting for a reply to three email requests for help. So much for customer service. paypal really sucks unless you have plenty of money or influence.

    1. localzuk

      Re: still waiting ....

      Getting a solicitor (or lawyer if you're in the USA) to write to them usually gets them moving...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mmmh, its definitely a cock-up when it becomes world-wide news ....

    I don't buy their excuses. Clearly they were hassling the account holders:-

    “When we pressed the Pay Pal representative on the phone for further details, he questioned whether ProtonMail is legal and if we have government approval to encrypt emails,” author Andy Yen claims.

    Account lockouts happen all too often with Paypal... Why people resort to having their lives dictated by this cutthroat operator is beyond me.... Just say no! When someone asks me to pay by pay pal, I check whether the specific PP site stores my credit card and personal info indefinitely. In most cases, and in most jurisdictions it does. I explain that I don't want this, to the payee, and I usually say no thanks. But invariably we work out some other way, bypassing these c*nts!

    I'm equally no fan of the banks, but with PP I just feel like I'm waiving all my consumer rights and getting absolutely no banking protection by submitting to their services!

    1. Ole Juul Silver badge

      Re: Mmmh, its definitely a cock-up when it becomes world-wide news ....

      "I check whether the specific PP site stores my credit card"

      Why would you be giving somebody your credit card if you're paying with Paypal? Sounds like you're doing something wrong. The two shouldn't be connected if you're concerned about privacy.

      1. AndyS

        Re: Mmmh, its definitely a cock-up when it becomes world-wide news ....

        If I set up a shop and accept payment by paypal, you don't need a paypal account to pay; you can just use your credit card, through the paypal platform. I'm willing to bet he doesn't have a paypal account, so this is what's happening.

      2. localzuk

        Re: Mmmh, its definitely a cock-up when it becomes world-wide news ....

        @Ole Juul - there's a lot more to having Paypal as a payment option than just paying using a PayPal account. A merchant can handle the card data themselves, or get Paypal to handle it. You can have Paypal use their merchant accounts (ie. the default way of doing things) or you can have them use your own merchant account.

        So, it isn't just a case of "put your PayPal login in the box" for all PayPal merchants.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Mmmh, its definitely a cock-up when it becomes world-wide news ....

        "If I set up a shop and accept payment by paypal, you don't need a paypal account to pay; you can just use your credit card, through the paypal platform. I'm willing to bet he doesn't have a paypal account, so this is what's happening."

        Exactly, the dilemma occurs when sellers have only one payment option: Pay Pal and buyers refuse to sign-up.... The problem is Pay Pal hoards your CC and other personal info indefinitely, long after the transaction has completed or forever... But since the buyer doesn't have a Pay Pal account its an impossible process to get one-time payment info deleted because Pay Pal support doesn't give a sh*t!

        1. Tom 13

          Re: since the buyer doesn't have a Pay Pal account

          If the buyer doesn't have a PayPal account, they're talking to the wrong business. If PayPal are processing a credit card as a merchant processor they have to abide by the merchant processor rules. Which means you should open a complaint with the bank that issued your credit card, who in turn will have Visa/MC/etc open the inquiry into PayPal.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "If the buyer doesn't have a PayPal account, they're talking to the wrong business. "

            Fair Enough. I'm using Visa. But when I tried to complain about all the sites that forced "Verified by Visa" on me and yet didn't work properly, I didn't even get a reply, not even a confirmation from my own bank or anyone at Visa ever. So while I understand your argument, taking advantage of the advice in a practical way is impossible IMHO!

    2. James Boag

      Re: Mmmh, its definitely a cock-up when it becomes world-wide news ....

      Just say no, and Email the provider telling them your saying no, Had to stop using Banggood for that very reason yesterday, Polite email telling them that i refuse to use pay pal and had sourced my Led Spot lights for a competing Chinese website due to their pay pal only status.

  8. martinbridge

    Another example of why you mustn't tie up significant sums of money with Paypal. And another reason to pay with Bitcoin.

    1. AndyS

      "Another example of why you mustn't tie up significant sums of money with Paypal."

      Fair enough.

      "And another reason to pay with Bitcoin."

      Oh don't be silly.

  9. Chairo
    Facepalm

    Master of the obvious

    ... PayPal, told The Register that the whole furor had been caused a couple of errors on its part.

    Who would have thought this?

  10. Sander van der Wal

    Plausible deniability

    That is the nice thing about it, because it exists everybody who makes a mistake is doing it deliberately.

  11. d3rrial

    Bitcoin to the rescue!

    Yes, I remember the day when Bitcoin Inc. froze all my Bitcoin wallets and I couldn't even buy any drugs or assassins anymore... When I e-mailed them they told me that my wallets were frozen because they wanted to appear more legitimate, like PayPal...

  12. Black Road Dude

    Bitcoin to the rescue!

    In this case bitcoin is actually the answer.

    1. Suricou Raven

      Re: Bitcoin to the rescue!

      It does solve this particular problem. It has new problems. It's certainly an interesting idea with much potential, but of uncertain future.

      The great advantage is also the great flaw. It escapes all the overhead, complication, corruption and manipulation that plagues the conventional financial system - but it also escapes the various guards against fraud and crime.

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