PayPal hasn’t allowed USENET providers to process payments through them for years now. The company recently took aim at another vital set of Internet services, and for the same reasons they stopped taking USENET subscriber payments.
According to PayPal, it’s all about copyright infringement.
PayPal prohibits products that facilitate copyright infringement in its terms of service. They stopped processing payments for USENET providers in 2012, and have always refused to do business with any company that provided products for using BitTorrent and other file-sharing services.
PayPal recently cut off processing services for UnoTelly, a Canadian SmartDNS and VPN provider, saying that the company’s products were advertised as a means to violate copyrights.
What PayPal claimed isn’t necessarily untrue. UnoTelly did advertise its service as a way that one could get around region restrictions on streaming services. Plenty of companies do.
SmartDNS and VPN services, however, are also used for privacy protection, and that means that PayPal won’t be available for people who want a VPN to protect themselves from people snooping on their data. While the company hasn’t made any large-scale cutoffs of services to VPN providers as of yet, VPN companies quite often advertise their services as being suitable for torrenting, and PayPal seems to have gone on something of a mission.
PayPal isn’t the only company to go after SmartDNS services recently. While Netflix’s policy has always disallowed them, the company ramped up its efforts to prevent SmartDNS services from accessing their catalogs back in January.
SmartDNS services will likely be able to work around the Netflix blocking attempts, but not being able to take payment via one of the most popular online payment services in the world could be a far greater problem.
USENET, VPN, SmartDNS: these are all services that allow people to make use of technology with greater freedom from spying. USENET providers have long been securing connections with SSL, providing a private tunnel between their users and their servers.
VPNs allow Internet surfers to enjoy similar protection wherever they go. SmartDNS services allow subscribers to appear to be surfing from a different physical location, which can be a vital security concern for people in some nations.
PayPal isn’t the only payment method out there. Bitcoin, credit cards and other, some of them anonymous, payment methods are readily available. For many people, however, and perhaps particularly for those who aren’t all that tech savvy, PayPal is the easiest way to go for SmartDNS, VPN or whatever else they need to pay for.
Taking that processing method away from providers is likely to hurt them financially. If they’re anything like USENET providers, however, they’ll still be around, but the good services they provide might take a PR hit in the process, as PayPal unfairly casts them as primarily designed to facilitate copyright infringement, when that’s not the case