When All Else Fails

PayPal Cuts WikiLeaks’ Access to Funds Amid Global Scrutiny

by Joseph Galante, BusinessWeek

PayPal Inc., the payment processor owned by EBay Inc., cut access today to the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks.org for violating its acceptable use policy.

PayPal suspended the account after the U.S. said WikiLeaks activities were in violation of the law, a spokesman for the company said. PayPal wasn’t contacted by any government agency and took the action on its own, the spokesman said.

PayPal’s move marks a further crippling of WikiLeaks, which is releasing about 250,000 classified diplomatic cables that the U.S., France and the U.K. say could endanger lives. Amazon.com Inc. dropped WikiLeaks from its website-hosting service this week for breaching terms of service.

“PayPal has permanently restricted the account used by WikiLeaks due to a violation of the PayPal Acceptable Use Policy, which states that our payment service cannot be used for any activities that encourage, promote, facilitate or instruct others to engage in illegal activity,” PayPal said in a blog posting. “We’ve notified the account holder of this action.”

WikiLeaks had an earlier run-in with PayPal in January, when it was temporarily blocked. The payment processor cut the organization’s access after it failed to respond to a request for more information when fundraising efforts triggered an influx of money. The flood of cash triggered automatic money- laundering alerts, though the situation was resolved about a day later, the spokesman said.

Terms of Service

Amazon, the Seattle-based online retailer and Web-hosting service, said that WikiLeaks had violated its terms of service by posting material it didn’t own and that it was potentially “putting innocent people in jeopardy.”

WikiLeaks’ U.S. site was shut down after electronic attacks threatened the stability of access to other websites, according to EveryDNS.net, the U.S. service that translates online addresses to Internet protocol numbers.

Since it began releasing the cables on Nov. 28, WikiLeaks also has faced so-called denial-of-service attacks, where hackers attempt to overwhelm a website with repeated requests for data.

The site moved its domain name to Switzerland, WikiLeaks said yesterday in its Twitter feed.

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