PayPal apparently inquired about flows of money through the registrar before terminating services; domain name registrar with controversial customers says it is being deplatformed.
PayPal has discontinued providing services to domain name registrar Epik.
It’s not entirely clear what happened, but Epik has commented on the decision in multi-page letters to PayPal employees, the CEO of PayPal, and a reporter for Bloomberg who apparently asked the company about some of the sites that use its services.
The letters from Epik SVP of Strategy and Communications Rob Davis noted that PayPal informed it:
“PayPal has determined that we will no longer provide our services to you due to service risk. A business decision has been made to no longer process transactions on your behalf…”
PayPal did not allow it to appeal.
Further explanation in the letters suggests that PayPal inquired about the provenance of some of the money flowing through Epik. In a letter to PayPal’s CEO, Davis wrote:
This is before we even address what looks like the intentional and inaccurate classification of our proven business model as a domain registrar, as a possible money laundering operation invoking compartmentalized handling procedures for convenient cover related to the Patriot Act…
Davis mentions that PayPal inquired about offshore numbered accounts, money transmission licenses, Patriot Act certificates, AML, external process flows, and other queries related to cross‐border activities and law enforcement. He called these questions “absolutely absurd, and well outside of any knowledge or experience we have as a domain registrar.”
Epik believes PayPal’s action is actually an attempt to “deplatform” the registrar, which is known for catering to fringe and far-right groups. Among its customers are Gab.com, which came under fire after the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, and Alex Jones’ InfoWars, a conspiracy theory site.
In an open letter to PayPal employees, Davis wrote:
It would appear that in a direct effort to silence conservative voices, PayPal has terminated our payment services ‐ just two weeks before a Presidential election. While the concept of technology firms targeting conservative‐owned companies to deplatform, demonetize, and deindex users is not unknown to us, the degree of tyranny and oppression that this particular action represents cannot go unaddressed by the American people. The fact that PayPal would initiate these steps at the exact time major technology firms are being exposed for censorship and being called to Congress is beyond rational thinking. It is like key executives are going out of their way to subject your company to the type of scrutiny that changes organizations forever.
…. With more than 100,000 customers and approximately two million domain names under management, many of our clients also represent leading conservative voices, who together can achieve and influence hundreds of millions of unique visitors each and every month. In the wake of damning evidence about Hunter Biden that threatens to expose elements of the DNC for being overtly anti‐American, PayPal has now seemingly moved into an aggressive phase of delivering brutal consequences for those who stand for truth.
Epik also links to a story about PayPal accidentally asking some sellers for additional information related to their accounts. PayPal said it was a technical error, but Epik links to it by suggesting that the glitch was really a cover for deplatforming.
The registrar also published contact information for many PayPal and GoDaddy executives.
Update: Mashable reports that PayPal confirmed it was confirmed about financial risk. A source told it the issue is with Epik’s “Masterbucks” currency.