PayPal’s co-founder, David Sacks, recently warned that big tech companies and political operatives are on the verge of creating a “No-Buy” list for controversial creators, platforms, and firms. Cryptocurrency was invented in part to solve problems like this.
Sacks warned readers of Common Sense with Bari Weiss on Substack that large corporate payment processors, including PayPal, are hard at work to build what is, in essence, a “No-Buy” list, a play on “No Fly” lists. Sacks says the difference is that this financial censorship isn’t the work of the government. Instead, its activist organizations with an apparent political agenda coordinated together with a consortium of private companies.
PayPal, Big Tech Financial Censorship on The Rise
He clearly considers financial exclusion of groups targeted for airing controversial political opinions an act of censorship and a danger to free speech:
“When I helped create PayPal in 1999, it was in furtherance of a revolutionary idea. No longer would ordinary people be dependent on large financial institutions to start a business… But now PayPal is turning its back on its original mission. It is now leading the charge to restrict participation by those it deems unworthy.”
And although Sacks helped start PayPal as its founding chief operating officer and product lead, he took the company he started to task for a slew of financial deplatforming actions over the last year:
“First, in January, PayPal blocked a Christian crowdfunding site that raised money to bring demonstrators to Washington on January 6. Then, in February, PayPal announced that it was working with the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) to ban users from the platform. This week the company announced it is partnering with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to investigate and shut down accounts that the ADL considers too extreme.”
Sacks quite reasonably outlines why he’s more than a bit skeptical that these organizations are pure watchdogs. Instead, it’s clear to him at least that the ADL and SPLC have become unscrupulous partisan political activists. He argues that “the definition of a ‘hate group’ is nebulous and ripe for overuse by those with an agenda.” He further warned that harmless organizations that have a right to exist, like religious liberty advocates and even election integrity activists, are already getting caught up in the financial censorship dragnet.
Cryptocurrency Exists in Part for Exactly This Reason
In dismay over growing financial censorship among some of the world’s biggest players in payments and remittances, David Sacks asks:
“When someone mistakenly lands on the No-Fly List, they can at least sue or petition the government for redress. But when your name lands on a No-Buy List created by a consortium of private fintech companies, to whom can you appeal?”
One answer to Sacks’ question is: The financially excluded can appeal to the blockchain. The PayPal founder’s entire summary of the problem on Substack could be perfectly summarized in one sentence from the original Bitcoin whitepaper published by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008 (the very first sentence of it, in fact):
“Commerce on the Internet has come to rely almost exclusively on financial institutions serving as trusted third parties to process electronic payments.”
Its censorship-resistant nature is one of the most widely-touted features and benefits of cryptocurrency. It’s decentralized, permissionless, and uncensorable. When you appeal to a blockchain like Bitcoin’s, it doesn’t ask or care who you are, what you think, or who you’re likely to vote for in the next election.
All Bitcoin’s blockchain wants to know is do you have the private keys. If you do, the bitcoin at the address for those keys is your bitcoin. Ironically enough, PayPal continues to make inroads to offering more cryptocurrency support on its payment platform.
Featured image courtesy of Vox