The online payment system gave no warning or reason why Consortium News‘ account has been “permanently limited.” PayPal indicated that only if “applicable” will the balance be returned.
By Joe Lauria
Special to Consortium News
PayPal has canceled Consortium News‘ account without any prior notice or due process and with virtually no explanation.
As Consortium News is today launching its Spring Fund Drive, it has lost one of its most important ways for its viewers and readers to show their support through donations. Clicking on the yellow PayPal donate button on our home page now yields this message:
PayPal has sent an email to CN that says:
“You can’t use PayPal anymore. … We noticed activity in your account that’s inconsistent with our User Agreement and we no longer offer you PayPal services. … Because of potential risk exposure, we’ve permanently limited your account. You’ll no longer be able to use the account for any transactions.”
The message says that “any money in your PayPal balance will be held for up to 180 days,” after which, “if applicable, we’ll email you with information on how to withdraw any remaining money.”
Consortium’s PayPal account page now shows a similar message (click to enlarge):
No Prior Notice or Explanation
There was no prior notice sent nor was Consortium News afforded any due process. A PayPal customer service agent confirmed in a telephone call on Sunday that the “back office” gave no specific reason for “permanently limiting” CN‘s account other than that an “investigation and review” of CN‘s “history found some potential risk associated with this account.”
She said the “potential risk” from CN is “not exactly specified by the back office.” The agent said, “It has something to do with the history of this account.” Asked whether any agency, government or private, or any individual had complained to PayPal about CN, the customer service agent replied, “I don’t see any existing case.”
The agent could not explain why Consortium News was given no notice or any due process, but promised to ask the “back office” to contact CN to explain.
Regarding the $9,348.14 balance in CN‘s PayPal account, the agent said that after a 180-day review PayPal would decide whether to return it. “If there was a violation,” she said “it is possible” the money could be kept as “damages” to PayPal. Violations under the Restricted Activities of the User Agreement include providing “false, inaccurate or misleading information” to PayPal, other PayPal customers “or third parties.”
Given the current political climate it is more than conceivable that PayPal is reacting to Consortium News’ coverage of the war in Ukraine, which is not in line with the dominant narrative that is being increasingly enforced. Last week PayPal also froze the account of the alternative news site MintPressNews.
PayPal was sued in California in January in a class action for similarly shutting down accounts.
Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former U.N. correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and numerous other newspapers, including The Montreal Gazette and The Star of Johannesburg. He was an investigative reporter for the Sunday Times of London, a financial reporter for Bloomberg News and began his professional work as a 19-year old stringer for The New York Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter @unjoe