PayPal has placed restrictions on payments to and from ProtonMail, the “NSA proof” encrypted email service that’s currently raising funds on Indiegogo.
The researchers behind the encryption service say they have been provided no information other than their case is “pending further review”.
“At this time, it is not possible for ProtonMail to receive or send funds through PayPal,” they said in a blog post. “No attempt was made by PayPal to contact us before freezing our account, and no notice was given.”
ProtonMail says that they initially spoke with a PayPal representative over the phone upon learning of the block to gather information on why their transactions have been blocked.
Since the blog post was published, PayPal has still not, as of the morning of July 1, contacted ProtonMail in response to their concerns, which are now public.
The researchers say that the restrictions have come as a surprise and do not understand why they have been “singled out”.
“While the $275,000 ProtonMail has raised in the past 2 weeks is a large amount, it pales in comparison to many other crowdfunding campaigns that have raised sums in excess of $1,000,000 so we can’t help but wonder why ProtonMail was singled out.”
“When we pressed the PayPal representative on the phone for further details, he questioned whether ProtonMail is legal and if we have government approval to encrypt emails,” said the blog post from ProtonMail (emphasis theirs).
“We are not sure which government PayPal is referring to, but even the 4th Amendment of the US constitution guarantees: ‘The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures….’
“It seems PayPal is trying to come up with ANY excuse they can to prevent us from receiving funds,” added Andy Yen, the author of the blog post.
ProtonMail’s PayPal functionality on their Indiegogo page has been disabled but the company is still accepting donations through credit card and Bitcoin.