PayPal criticised for “censorship” over obscene content warning

Strict stance on subject matter

Digital rights and authors’ rights groups are protesting PayPal’s content removal requests to certain e-book publishers. PayPal is warning erotica publishers that “themes of rape, incest, bestiality and underage subjects” could result in their accounts with the company being “limited” if not removed from their websites. Organisations including the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Association of American Publishers and Authors Guild are now asking PayPal to remove content restrictions on products sold through its service.

“Financial services providers should be neutral when it comes to lawful online speech,” say the groups. They also claim that censorship of certain issues could be applied to mainstream fiction in the future, citing ancient Greek tragedy Oedipus as an example of a work of literature that could suffer.

PayPal claims its policy is driven by those of the banks and credit card providers it partners with. “Our banking partners and credit card associations have taken a very strict stance on this subject matter ,” the company says in a letter to e-bookshop Smashwords. “We have to remain in compliance with their rules.” Credit card providers including American Express and Visa are yet to comment.

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