Hmmm... Icky issue...
Still, I find censorship at the payment level completely distasteful. These kinds of things should be at the edge, i.e. at the publisher level.
There's an argument that what isn't legal or acceptable in the physical world doesn't magically become legal and acceptable when it's put up on the web. Political and thought-crime aside, I find I largely agree with that argument.
I try to use a real-world transform to see if what is happening on the web represents a change, or is just a legitimate and rational extension of an existing meme.
In this specific case, I think there's enough legal precedence and public understanding to not get overly concerned.
Let's go real-world for a minute. Somebody like MasterCard or Amex wouldn't be considered an accessory to an illegal act just because somebody used one of their cards to purchase the means necessary to commit a crime. Or to receive payment for it.
But Mastercard would
be considered an accessory if they deliberately courted such businesses (Open a MasterCrackDealer account today!) - or showed a pattern of knowingly and deliberately processing payments for something they had reason to believe was illegal.
So in PayPal's case, yeah...they do have something to be concerned about here.
But it would have been better if they just put their cards on the table and simply said: Look people, there's some stuff going on that we don't want to be involved with. So if you're into that sort of thing you're going to have to get somebody other than us to process transactions for it.
PayPal is a private business. They're not a government agency. They have the right to decide what business they will carry. I don't have a problem with that.
What I do worry about is how pressuring PayPal might open the doors for a convenient way for governments and interest groups to effectively censor
materials not quite so broadly offensive as what PayPal is now refusing to handle. Especially when you consider how almost anything you can think of (or do) is likely to be illegal in some part of this world.
Tough call this story. I agree with PayPal not wanting to handle this type of business. But I also fault them for not having the kahunas to originally say what the real reasons for that decision were.
At any rate, this is a potential bellwhether that bears watching because of the opportunity it provides for future legal abuses.