PayPal backtracks on “obscene” e-book policy

(También en Español)

News of Note: PayPal backtracks on “obscene” e-book policy

(Reuters) – PayPal, the online payment service owned by eBay Inc., is backtracking on its policy against processing sales of e-books containing themes of rape, bestiality or incest after protests from authors and anti-censorship activist groups.

PayPal’s new policy will focus only on e-books that contain potentially illegal images, not e-books that are limited to just text, spokesman Anuj Nayar said on Tuesday. The service will still refuse, however, to process payments for text-only e-books containing child pornography themes.

When I heard that PayPal was throttling the sales of various legal e-books, I wondered if that was a reasonable use of their power. For many people Paypal is a necessary evil. If you make a living on eBay or run a shop in Second Life, you’re probably going to want PayPal in order to get paid.

But this begs the question, “Do corporations have the right to impose censorship on their clients?”

Paypal is a money transmitter. They offer a service similar to a bank (they are a bank in Europe), and they sell no products. As long as no one is dealing in illegal activity, do you believe Paypal has any right to choose what their users can buy? Let us know what you think.

Jack Diehl