Sunday, March 18, 2012

Ripping Off the Fig Leaf

Several sources, including the Electronic Freedom Foundation, are crowing about PayPal backing away from its announced censorship policy. The EFF has gone so far as to proclaim"PayPal has announced a new speech-friendly policy for online book sales, reversing plans to shut off payment processing to publishers of certain forms of erotic literature." Not so fast.

True, PayPal Communications Director Anuj Nayar's latest public statement has addressed several of the concerns I pointed out in this blog, but while it has modified its policy (or in Nayar's Doublespeak, "clarified" it), the policy is still in effect: "The policy will prohibit use of PayPal for the sale of e-books that contain child pornography, or e-books with text and obscene images of rape, bestiality or incest." I maintain it is unacceptable for a payment processor to exercise editorial control over content. While Nayar addressed my point on banning entire classes of publications rather than specific books and reversed PayPal's position, and seemed to be steering away from "text-only" publications, it is not enough. PayPal should not have a kill switch on creative expression. Artwork, including "images", are a form of artistic expression and often convey concepts and ideas. Next, they'll be justifying placing fig leaves on photos of Michelangelo's "David".


If the Supreme Court cannot adequately define "obscenity", then I certainly do not trust PayPal to do so. O.K., I'm done with the PayPal affair (I hope). Deadlines beckon. Until next time...

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