Feeds

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

Payment goliath blames 'technical problem' for account block

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

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. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
14 antivirus apps found to have security problems
Vendors just don't care, says researcher, after finding basic boo-boos in security software
'Things' on the Internet-of-things have 25 vulnerabilities apiece
Leaking sprinklers, overheated thermostats and picked locks all online
iWallet: No BONKING PLEASE, we're Apple
BLE-ding iPhones, not NFC bonkers, will drive trend - marketeers
Only '3% of web servers in top corps' fully fixed after Heartbleed snafu
Just slapping a patched OpenSSL on a machine ain't going to cut it, we're told
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Israel's Iron Dome missile tech stolen by Chinese hackers
Corporate raiders Comment Crew fingered for attacks
Tor attack nodes RIPPED MASKS off users for 6 MONTHS
Traffic confirmation attack bared users' privates - but to whom?
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.