The founder of a free speech group in the United Kingdom is speaking out after his PayPal accounts were shut down after the company accused him of violating its policies. He says no specific policies were cited though.
Toby Young is the founder of the Free Speech Union (FSU). It's a non-partisan, mass-membership public interest group that stands up for the speech rights of its members. He is also the founder of The Daily Sceptic blog which he set up during the COVID-19 pandemic in April of 2020 in order to scrutinize Britain's lockdown, according to The Daily Mail.
In an exclusive interview with Great Britain News, Young explained how he found out in three separate emails from PayPal, a digital payment platform, that his personal account, the account for the FSU, and the Daily Skeptic's account had been closed for violating their "acceptable use policy." He noted that PayPal had been taking a commission of 1.5% per transaction to process his members' yearly dues payments for the last two and a half years.
"No warning. Just out of the blue. The same message. You've violated our Acceptable Use Policy," he said. "I mean, OK. That's sort of credible in the case of one account perhaps. But for three accounts, to be found guilty of exactly the same crime within minutes of each other, it feels like something much more sinister is going on."
Thank you to all who stand in solidarity with us – existing members, supporters, and the many new members joining us today.
Here's a thread about who we are and what we do. pic.twitter.com/xSGWoKwNNm
— The Free Speech Union (@SpeechUnion) September 21, 2022
The website encourages users to report violations of the Acceptable Use Policy and provides a link for users to file a report.
PayPal did not inform Young which rule his organization had violated but among the prohibited activities lists transactions involving the violation of any law; transactions involving illegal drugs; transactions involving the promotion of hate, violence, racial or other forms of intolerance; items considered obscene; or certain sexually oriented materials or services.
PayPal told The Daily Mail it was trying to balance "protecting the ideals of tolerance, diversity and respect" with the values of free expression.
On his blog, Young wrote that he had filed an appeal with PayPal, but a few days later, he was notified that his appeal was unsuccessful.
"I suspect what's really going on is that someone at PayPal – possibly the entire C-suite – doesn't like what the Daily Sceptic or the Free Speech Union stands for. The company has form in this area," he wrote.
Young also pointed to PayPal's cancellation or suspension of individual journalists and media outlets' accounts back in May, including the left-wing sites Consortium News and Mint Press. Both of those websites, he explained, have been critical of the war in Ukraine.
He admitted that his blog has published articles critical of the Ukraine war and even linked to the Mint Press. But he also explained they've published several articles defending Ukraine and its fight against the Russian invasion.
"A number of sites that have raised questions about the Covid vaccines have also been demonetized by PayPal in the past few months, including the U.K. Medical Freedom Alliance. Liz Evans, the head of the UKMFA, also had her personal PayPal account closed at the same time," Young wrote.
"Is that fact that we've published data suggesting the mRNA vaccines aren't as efficacious or as safe as we were initially led to believe why we've been canceled?" he asked.
He speculated his three accounts could have been closed for all of the above reasons.
"PayPal just doesn't like free speech, which is why it has shut down the FSU account at the same time. There are five issues in particular where it's completely verboten to express skeptical views and if you do you can expect to be canceled, not just by PayPal but by YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.: the wisdom of the lockdown policy and associated Covid restrictions, the efficacy and safety of the mRNA vaccines, Net Zero, and the climate emergency, the need to teach five-year-olds that sex is a social construct, and the war in Ukraine," Young wrote.
He added, "Dissent from the prevailing orthodoxy in any of those areas is no longer permitted."
The founder of the Free Speech Union also noted what he called "the new front" in the ongoing war against free speech.
"The withdrawal of financial services from people and organizations that express dissenting opinions on those topics," Young wrote. "And not just those who express them, but those who defend them, too, like the FSU. That's what makes this an escalation in the war on free speech."
"Until now, companies like PayPal, GoFundMe, Patreon, and CrowdJustice have only demonetized individuals and groups whose views they disapprove of. Now, PayPal has closed the account of an organization that defends people's right to free speech, without taking sides on the issues they're speaking about. Even that is no longer allowed, according to this Silicon Valley behemoth," he continued.
“MPs have hit back at PayPal after it cancelled the account of a parents group which fought to keep schools open during Covid just days after doing the same to the Free Speech Union.”
The fightback against Big Tech financial censorship is on! https://t.co/LFEFx0wiVo
— The Free Speech Union (@SpeechUnion) September 22, 2022
Young told The Daily Mail that FSU will be lobbying the UK government to pass new laws "to stop companies like PayPal from withdrawing their services from individuals and organizations who say something perfectly lawful but which their employees disagree with."
PayPal said it would "discontinue" its relationship with account holders found to violate its policies, according to The Mail.
The company added: "Achieving the balance between protecting the ideals of tolerance, diversity, and respect for people of all backgrounds and upholding the values of free expression and open dialogue can be difficult, but we do our best to achieve it."
CBN News has also contacted PayPal to ask for a comment. We will post if here if we hear back.