Feeds

PayPal says sorry: Fat fingers froze fundraiser for anti-spy ProtonMail

Payment goliath blames 'technical problem' for account block

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

PayPal has lifted its embargo on ProtonMail, the Swiss startup raising funds via Indiegogo to build a communications system hardened against surveillance.

The payment giant claims the account freeze wasn't a matter of policy, but a simple cock-up.

On Monday ProtonMail, which was set up by boffins at CERN and MIT, reported that PayPal had blocked its account and left $280,000 of crowd-funded cash in limbo. ProtonMail said PayPal hadn't warned it of the account freeze, and a representative of the payment service provider had questioned whether the proposed service was legal and had government approval.

But within 24 hours ProtonMail reported that the block had been lifted and it had access to the funds pledged by its supporters once more. Anuj Nayar, senior director of global initiatives at PayPal, told The Register that the whole furor had been caused by a couple of errors on its part.

Back in September PayPal changed its operating procedures on administrating account status in response to problems some of its customers had been having, he said. ProtonMail's account was flagged up for checking – a process that would have left the startup with full control of their funds – but someone pressed the wrong button and frozen the account, we're told.

"We made a mistake and as soon as we found out we called and apologized," Nayar said.

With regards to the conversation with a PayPal staffer that ProtonMail reported about the service's legality, PayPal said it is checking call transcripts, but that it was clear that someone at their end had made a mistake.

There is nothing in ProtonMail's proposals that broke PayPal's rules and that it has no problem with this kind of product, Nayar said. Indeed, there are plenty of products funded via PayPal in the security and encryption worlds.

Nayar added that senior executives will review procedures to make sure this doesn't happen again. We'll keep you posted. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
George Clooney, WikiLeaks' lawyer wife hand out burner phones to wedding guests
Day 4: 'News'-papers STILL rammed with Clooney nuptials
Shellshock: 'Larger scale attack' on its way, warn securo-bods
Not just web servers under threat - though TENS of THOUSANDS have been hit
Apple's new iPhone 6 vulnerable to last year's TouchID fingerprint hack
But unsophisticated thieves need not attempt this trick
PEAK IPV4? Global IPv6 traffic is growing, DDoS dying, says Akamai
First time the cache network has seen drop in use of 32-bit-wide IP addresses
Oracle SHELLSHOCKER - data titan lists unpatchables
Database kingpin lists 32 products that can't be patched (yet) as GNU fixes second vuln
Who.is does the Harlem Shake
Blame it on LOLing XSS terroristas
Researchers tell black hats: 'YOU'RE SOOO PREDICTABLE'
Want to register that domain? We're way ahead of you.
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.