PayPal Turns Bradley Manning Defense Account Back On; Claims It Was A Paperwork Problem

from the that's-not-what-they-said-originally dept

PayPal’s decision to cut off the account of an organization that was collecting funds to help with Bradley Manning’s defense got a lot of attention — so much that PayPal came out with a blog post explaining that it was just a paperwork problem on the part of the organization, Courage to Resist. Because of this, they’ve reinstated the account:

We recently placed a temporary limitation of the Courage to Resist organization?s PayPal account as they had not complied to our stated policy requiring non profits to associate a bank account with their PayPal account (for the vast majority of non-profits, this is not an issue).

In a press release issued today, the Courage to Resist organization claimed that their resistance to follow our policy is because PayPal sought to withdraw funds from their checking account.  To be clear: PayPal cannot take such action without the authorization of an account holder, nor does it ever take such unauthorized actions.

Upon review, and as part of our normal business procedures, we have decided to lift the temporary restriction placed on their account because we have sufficient information to meet our statutory ‘Know Your Customer’ obligations. The Courage to Resist PayPal account is now fully operational.

While it’s good that they’ve done this, not all of this makes sense. Courage to Resist claims that they repeatedly asked for an explanation and for the specific policy that they had violated. If it was just a matter of associating an account with a bank account, why didn’t PayPal just tell them that in the first place?

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Comments on “PayPal Turns Bradley Manning Defense Account Back On; Claims It Was A Paperwork Problem”

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26 Comments
David Liu (profile) says:

Err, Paypal did tell them.

From the previous article on the subject:
?They said they would not unrestrict our account unless we authorized PayPal to withdraw funds from our organization?s checking account by default. Our accounting does not allow for this type of direct access by a third party, nor do I trust PayPal as a business entity with this responsibility given their punitive actions against WikiLeaks?an entity not charged with any crime by any government on Earth.?

And it seems like it was exactly that. As much as I would like to continue to vilify PayPal, it seems like this was a matter of miscommunication on both sides, which was promptly resolved (within one day).

David Liu (profile) says:

Response to: David Liu on Feb 25th, 2011 @ 2:04pm

I’m willing to bet that an increased amount of donations due to the whole situation triggered some flags and required extra confirmation.

PayPal didn’t just block them out of nowhere for no reason. From what I can tell from statements on both sides, PayPal requested that CtR (Courage to Resist) link a bank account to the PayPal account. I assume this helps prevent fraud and/or helps PayPal get more information on the company, which they were obligated to do (look up “Know Your Customer”, a government regulation). It’s quite possible that the amount of donations through the account before were never enough to require PayPal to do this due dilligence (since obviously PayPal doesn’t do extra checks on EVERY account they have).

The problem that caused the whole snafu was that CtR refused to give the bank information, which then resulted in the shutting down of the account. On one hand, CtR definitely had reason to be suspicious of PayPal, since PayPal refused to handle donations to WikiLeaks, but PayPal also had its hands tied by government regulations in this account (because of Know Your Customer obligations).

So Paypal had no other choice but to shut it down. Of course, with a public outcry supporting CtR as a legitimate business for helping Bradley Manning (rather than some fraudulent business claiming as such), that probably provided enough to fulfill the KYC obligations, allowing PayPal to reinstate the account.

That’s my take on the whole matter. Not some malicious intent, but rather stupidity and silliness.

Mr Claypole (profile) says:

“why didn’t PayPal just tell them that in the first place?”

Have you ever dealt with Paypal customer services? They are incapable of answering ANY question directly – they have a set template of answers they give to any question and seem to go out of their way to not answer your specific question. And no matter how many times you say ‘I did not ask that question, I asked this…’, they still don’t address your specific query.

TSO says:

Dear Courage to Resist,

1. Create a SEPARATE checking account to use ONLY with PayPal;
2. Keep $1 in it.
3. Forbid the bank to do overdraft coverage crap (by Obama’s law, they are required to obey, yay!)
4. Allow PayPal “to withdraw funds from our organization?s checking account by default”
5. Every time the funds transferred from PayPal hit that account, transfer them to your other accounts.
6. If PP ever wants to steal your money, let them eat cake…. err… steal the said $1.
7. Problem solved.
8. ?????
9. PROFIT!!!

pixelpusher220 (profile) says:

Response to: David Liu on Feb 25th, 2011 @ 2:04pm

“The problem that caused the whole snafu was that CtR refused to give the bank information”
.
Utterly false according to PayPals own response. From the blog linked to by PayPal
https://www.thepaypalblog.com/2011/02/paypal-statement-on-courage-to-resist-situation/
http://cryptome.org/0003/paypal-evil.htm
“To meet PayPal’s standard verification requirements, the Support Network opted to open a line of credit with PayPal and provided Social Security numbers and other financial details in doing so. Approximately a month later on January 29, 2011, PayPal decided that these standard protocols did not apply to Bradley Manning related efforts.”

Perhaps CTR is lying but PayPal clearly is not refuting what they have said.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

The real question is, had none of this happened would you even be aware?

So what if it was a ploy for publicity? Ask a random individual if they even know who Bradley Manning is, even know one single amendment on the bill of rights, even know what the real function of government is supposed to be.

Why you should even be concerned over an issue as insignificant as this when an actual American citizen, an American Soldier, is being mistreated and is being locked away for standing up and defending the obligations he swore to uphold – to protect our country and serve its best interests – is what I think you should be considering.

We the people, have allowed our government to become overly corrupt, overly intrusive, and overly-powered. They do not server our interests as citizens, they do not honor our constitution, but they do whore themselves out to the highest bidder, and thanks to the courage and resolve of Bradley Manning those facts have been brought further into light.

But feel free to concern yourself with petty issues and squabble over meaningless occurrences such as these – thankfully there are people, like Bradley Manning, looking at the bigger picture. He sure as hell didn’t care about “protocol” and I have feeling CtR doesn’t either, they’re just trying to help.

Anonymous Coward says:

We recently placed a temporary limitation of the Courage to Resist organization?s PayPal account as they had not complied to our stated policy requiring non profits to associate a bank account with their PayPal account (for the vast majority of non-profits, this is not an issue).

It was only “temporary” because of all the attention it got. Most frozen accounts never get unfrozen.

In a press release issued today, the Courage to Resist organization claimed that their resistance to follow our policy is because PayPal sought to withdraw funds from their checking account. To be clear: PayPal cannot take such action without the authorization of an account holder, nor does it ever take such unauthorized actions.

Many first-hand accounts by former PayPal users would suggest otherwise.

Upon review, and as part of our normal business procedures, we have decided to lift the temporary restriction placed on their account because we have sufficient information to meet our statutory ‘Know Your Customer’ obligations. The Courage to Resist PayPal account is now fully operational.

Translation: We didn’t anticipate this kind of public backlash and so re-instated the account before too many people wised up to our shady practices. Don’t expect us to give the same consideration to you when we freeze your account for no apparent reason.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

But feel free to concern yourself with petty issues and squabble over meaningless occurrences such as these – thankfully there are people, like Bradley Manning, looking at the bigger picture.

Umm, your fearless leader is the one who brought this up. If Manning’s case is so important, I think that it can get all the publicity it needs without having to resort to playing games with Paypal just to get press.

The lack of interest by the media and the public in general is perhaps more telling. Manning is a crook, a spy, and a danger to the US, and he will go to jail, probably for the rest of his life. I think most people have already figured it out, and whatever good came out of his actions are balanced against an incredible abuse of the trust and power that the military (and therefore the people) put in Mr Manning.

JustSomeGuy says:

“why didn’t PayPal just tell them that in the first place?”

Because PayPal are lying through their teeth. This is just another example of a corporation explicitly making a decision, realising that the bad press isn’t worth it, and reversing the decision. Just once I’d like to hear one of them say “we stuffed up, it was our fault, we’ve rectified it” rather than spewing forth the usual “it was a paperwork problem” BS.

David (profile) says:

I know why

If it was just a matter of associating an account with a bank account, why didn’t PayPal just tell them that in the first place?

I do business with PayPal for the simple reason that PayPal bought the Verisign credit card authorization unit called Pay Flow Pro. The reason they didn’t tell them the problem is that PayPal hires the most incredibly uninformed people on the planet to run their support operation. I frequently have to interact with PayPal because they limit our account. I typically go the problem resolution page only to find some vague item I don’t understand making it impossible to respond to. If I call PayPal I’ll usually get someone who barely speaks English and can’t understand English. If I ask them to explain the item they just read back the text from the web page. If I ask them to explain what that means, they don’t know. If I ask them how to comply with their request, they don’t know.

Basically PayPal is bunch of idiots who can’t figure out their own business. That would be why.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

Thank you for proving beyond a doubt that the “big pictures” is completely foreign to you.

“your fearless leader”

I have no clue whom or what you’re trying to reference here.

“The lack of interest by the media and the public in general is perhaps more telling.”

Certainly.

“Manning is a crook, a spy, and a danger to the US, and he will go to jail, probably for the rest of his life.”

Thanks for regurgitating what clung to one of a few wrinkles I’m sure. Crook only in the sense he did something illegal, spy – well that’s just a laugh, and as far as being a danger… well I think you’ve never known what those truthfully are.

Ben (profile) says:

Had similar problems

I had the exact same scenario that was described by this group happen to me, and all I did was set up a business account to be used by my scout troop to collect donations. The options that weren’t entirely clear were to keep it as a simple business account and pay the regular fees or to request nonprofit status and get a lower fee. The requirements for the nonprofit status did include a requirement to link to a checking account with the Troop’s name. I had collected several hundred dollars when Paypal locked down the account so that i could not withdraw without complying with the nonprofit requirements.

I definitely agree that Paypal’s service department needs serious help because they told me some confusing information initially but later they called me back with someone who was very much involved and had done further research specific to my account and verifying our nonprofit status. In the end it all worked out fine, and everything that the CtR group says is probably true, other than the fact that they probably had the account for forever as a commercial account and just recently applied for nonprofit status. That’s what triggers a higher level of verification.

Anonymous Coward says:

“To be clear: PayPal cannot take such action without the authorization of an account holder, nor does it ever take such unauthorized actions. “

Yes, well paypal makes authorization to remove funds from the account a part of the agreement so technically they are not lying.

However they DO take funds out of people’s accounts and generally a good deal more than any amount that may or may not have been in question.

A quick google on paypal sucks will get you all the stories you can stand.

The market REALLY needs a replacement for paypal, preferably one that offers an escrow service too.

FuzzyDuck says:

Really need an alternative to Paypal

Not so long ago I found out how their customer service really sucks, without going into details it went something like this:

Q: why is the fee so high to receive money?
A: the fee is for customer protection.
Q: so are my customers be protected?
A: no, because you are providing a service.
Q: so why is the fee so high then?
A: that is for customer protection.

They repeated this circular reasoning a few times, apparently without blinking an eye.

I can’t wait for a good alternative to Paypal.

Given Paypal’s willingness to be a censorship tool for the US government before, it stands to reason that Paypal is acting in bad faith here.

Besides what gives them the right to freeze an account and hold all the money? The most they should be allowed to do is tell people to take their money elsewhere. But no Paypal keeps the money “on hold”.

FuzzyDuck says:

Re:

The lack of interest by the media and the public in general is perhaps more telling. Manning is a crook, a spy, and a danger to the US, and he will go to jail, probably for the rest of his life.

Sadly that means that the US has lowered itself to the standards of the former Soviet Union, where the real criminals were in power but those who dared stand up to them were labeled as criminals instead.

Pseudonym (profile) says:

SOP for PayPal

To be fair, PayPal has plausible deniability on their side. They’ve been suspending accounts, stealing money and generally mishandling peoples’ livelihoods for a decade now. I think their software has a random number generator which decides who is going to get it this week.

So when they say it’s random bureaucratic nonsense, I’m that much more inclined to believe them.

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