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Et Tu, PayPal? The EU’s Role in Defunding Dissent

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This article was originally published by the Brownstone Institute

BY ROBERT KOGON

PayPal appears unsure whether it should participate in the current crusade against online “disinformation” or not.

First it closed the PayPal accounts of The Daily Sceptic and the Free Speech Union, and even the personal account of their founder Toby Young, and then, two weeks later, it restored them. Then it announced that it would be docking $2,500 from anyone who uses its services in connection with “promoting misinformation” and then, two days later, it again reversed course and announced that this language was never intended to be included in its new Acceptable Use Policy (AUP).

It was not intended to be included? Well, where did it come from then?

Could the EU’s Code of Practice on Disinformation and its Digital Services Act (DSA), about which I wrote in my last Brownstone article, have something to do with PayPal’s skittish forays into “combatting disinformation?” Well, yes, they could, and you may rest assured that EU officials or representatives have already had a word with PayPal about them.

As discussed in my previous article, the Code requires signatories to censor what is deemed by the European Commission to be disinformation on pain of massive fines. The enforcement mechanism, i.e. the fines, has been established under the DSA.

PayPal is not, for the moment, a signatory of the Code. Furthermore, since it is neither a content platform nor a search engine – the potential channels of “disinformation” targeted in the DSA – it is obviously not in a position to censor per se. But the very first commitment in the “strengthened” Code of Practice unveiled by the European Commission last June is dedicated precisely to demonetization.

Unsurprisingly, given the nature of the business models of the most prominent signatories – Twitter, Meta/Facebook and Google/YouTube – this commitment and the six “measures” it comprises are mostly related to advertising practices.

But the “Guidance” that the Commission issued in May 2021, prior to the Code’s drafting, explicitly calls for “broadening” efforts to defund alleged purveyors of disinformation and contains the following highly pertinent recommendation:

Actions to defund disinformation should be broadened by the participation of players active in the online monetisation value chain, such as online e-payment services, e-commerce platforms and relevant crowd-funding/donation systems. (p. 8; emphasis added)

PayPal, the online e-payment service par excellence, was thus already in the Commission’s sights.

Somewhat illogically, given their own emphasis on advertising and the fact that an advertising-based revenue model and a donation or pay model would ordinarily be regarded as alternatives, the signatories of the “strengthened” Code thus pledged to

…exchange best practices and strengthen cooperation with relevant players, expanding to organisations active in the online monetisation value chain, such as online e-payment services, e-commerce platforms and relevant crowd-funding/donation systems…. (Commitment 3)

But the outreach to PayPal has not only occurred via third parties like the Code signatories.

In late May, shortly after the text of the Digital Services Act had been finalized – but before the European Parliament had even had the opportunity to vote on it! – an 8-member delegation from the parliament was dispatched to California to discuss the DSA and the related Digital Markets Act (DMA) with relevant “digital stakeholders.”

In addition to Code signatories Google and Meta, the “host list,” so to say – since the parliamentarians were to be the guests and they were inviting themselves! – also included PayPal. (See the delegation report here.)

Curiously, Twitter was not included among the companies and organizations to be visited, perhaps because of the turmoil unleashed by Elon Musk’s takeover bid. But, as touched upon in my prior article, Thierry Breton, the EU’s Internal Market Commissioner, had already paid a visit to Musk in Austin, Texas earlier in the month to have a word with him about the DSA.

No less than three of the delegation’s eight members – Alexandra Geese, Marion Walsmann and delegation head Andreas Schwab – were German, whereas Germans only account for around 13% of the total members of the parliament. This stark overrepresentation is telling, since Germany has undoubtedly been the prime mover behind the EU’s censorship drive, having already adopted its own online censorship law in 2017 with the express motivation of “combatting criminal fake news in social networks” (p. 1 of the legislative proposal in German here).

The German legislation, commonly known as “NetzDG” or the Network Enforcement Act, threatens platforms with fines of up to €50 million for hosting content that infringes any of a variety of German laws that restrict speech in ways that would be unthinkable and unconstitutional in the United States. It is also the source of the Twitter notices that many Twitter users will have received informing them that their account had been denounced by “a person from Germany.”

As noted above, PayPal is not presently a signatory of the Code of Practice on Disinformation. On July 14, however, just nine days after the passage of the DSA, the Commission issued a “Call for interest to become a Signatory” of the Code. The call is explicitly addressed to, among others, “e-payment services, e-commerce platforms, crowd-funding/donation systems.” The latter are identified as “providers whose services may be used to monetize disinformation.”

Evidently not satisfied merely with “deplatforming,” the Commission has thus made clear that the next frontier in its combat against “disinformation” is attempting to defund dissenters who, despite their discrimination by or banishment from the major online platforms, have managed to preserve a place in the online discussion thanks to platforms of their own.

PayPal, moreover, will know that the “exclusive” – in effect, dictatorial – powers that the DSA confers on the European Commission include the power to designate the “very large” online platforms that are susceptible to incurring the massive DSA fines of up to 6% of global turnover. PayPal will easily satisfy the “very large” size criterion of having at least 45 million users in the EU, but it is obviously not a content platform.

Nonetheless, this appears not to be so obvious to the European Commission. For the Commission press release on the call for signatories treats it precisely…as a content platform! Thus, the press release refers to “providers of e-payment services, e-commerce platforms, crowd-funding/donation systems, which may be used to spread disinformation.” Huh?

In the meanwhile, on September 1, the EU has opened a specially-dedicated office or “embassy” in San Francisco to conduct what it itself describes as “digital diplomacy” with US tech firms. The “ambassador,” Commission official Gerard de Graaf, is reportedly one of the drafters of the DSA. Perhaps he will be able to explain the intricacies of the DSA to PayPal – or even already has. PayPal headquarters are, after all, just a stone’s throw away in Palo Alto.

In any case, PayPal has been put on notice, and, with it, so too have dissident websites that depend on user support for their survival. Ignore the EU at your peril.

Author

  • Robert Kogon is a pen name for a widely-published financial journalist, a translator, and researcher working in Europe. Follow him at Twitter here. He writes at edv1694.substack.com.

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Brownstone Institute

Requiem for Jacinda Ardern’s Political Life

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From the Brownstone Institute

BY Guy HatchardGUY HATCHARD

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has resigned after months of rumors. Ardern, whose popularity has plummeted during the last six months, told us “she had nothing left in the tank.” In her resignation speech, she called on Labour Party ministers to consider which reform areas should be priorities and which should be scrapped as Labour moves to try to wipe some controversial policies off its plate.

The backstory to this resignation is a tale of woe. Ardern said today she wants to be remembered as someone who tried to be kind. The subtext is: the country is in an unprecedented mess but don’t blame me. School attendance is running at just 67 percent on any given day. Machete-wielding teenagers are ram-raiding liquor stores daily in an unparalleled crime wave. The health system is overwhelmed. Ardern’s government promised to build 100,000 new homes over three years. It has delivered just 1,500.

Our tourist, farming, and hospitality industries have never recovered from lockdowns and border closures. It now takes months to get a visa to visit NZ and the government says it only wants rich people to come. No wonder, we are all poor now. Ardern famously insisted on universal Covid vaccination mandates. There is a suspicion that our 90 percent vaccination rate has left everyone in a lethargic fog. Excess all-cause deaths are still running 15 percent above the long-term trends, and it is not because of Covid.

History will judge Ardern harshly, but don’t blame her alone. This was a Parliament who woke up on all sides of the house to the weakness of our constitutional arrangements (there are none). The Bill of Rights was tossed aside and no one in Parliament cared.

The leader of the National opposition, Chris Luxon, famously said pre-pandemic if he was in power, he would withdraw benefits from unvaccinated single mothers. David Seymour, leader of the ACT party, said those losing their jobs through vaccine mandates only had themselves to blame. Labour’s coalition partner, the Greens led by example, encouraging mothers in labour to ride to hospital on a bicycle (yes they did).

Revelations this week, hat Ardern personally overruled her scientific advisors who were expressing doubts about the safety of Covid vaccines for young people and the wisdom of mandates, have circulated very widely and no doubt this further undermined confidence in the government.

Political insider and right-wing commentator Cameron Slater published an article 10 days ago saying that out of all the politicians he has known (and he has known most since Muldoon in the 1970s) Ardern is the only one he rates as truly evil.

Ardern introduced rule by regulation. Adopting the enabling model favoured by fascists in the 1930s, her government has empowered authorities to tell us all what to do, when to stay at home, and where not to go. The courts, the Human Rights Commission, and the broadcast regulators have all followed the government line meticulously, which had a devastating effect on business, families, communities, and professions. To cement her policies, Ardern introduced massive government funding of our media and broadcasters.

Ardern was a protege of Tony Blair and Klaus Schwab of the WEF. They must bear some blame too. What fantasies of global power did they offer to a young person who was given to idealistic dreaming that segued into fanaticism?

Ardern’s government, in an absurd overreach, also funded a nationwide effort to discredit critics of policy, labeling them terrorists. This has divided a formerly egalitarian society, instituting a Stasi-like snitch culture that encourages us to dob in a neighbour. Government Disinformation Project employees appeared on funded films aired on television labeling knitting, blond hair, braids, vaccine hesitancy, love of natural foods, Yoga, and yes, motherhood as signs of terrorism that should be reported to the intelligence services.

Why did Ardern suddenly change overnight in August 2021 from being a kindly figure saying she would never mandate vaccines, to being one of the world’s most draconian proponents? We can only speculate. NZ is a member of the Five Eyes intelligence network. Given the Pentagon’s recently revealed massive involvement in US Covid policy and gain of function research funding, was she fed information that a bioweapon was in play? We will likely never know.

For a couple of weeks now government announcements and advertisements encouraging vaccination and boosters have been conspicuously absent. Has the penny finally dropped? We doubt it. It will take an honest, intelligent politician (are there any?) to roll back Ardern’s dictatorial powers and kickstart New Zealand. Why would any aspiring newbie give up that much power? The prospect will be too intoxicating.

Our final verdict: It is not Ardern but the whole NZ Parliament elected in 2020 that will be judged as the worst in our short history as an independent island nation, formerly famous for championing the underdog and offering opportunity to all. Ardern’s resignation is a bonfire of modern democracy.

Author

  • Guy Hatchard

    Guy Hatchard PhD is the author of HatchardReport.com a popular covid science information site in New Zealand with a large following. He also runs the campaign for Global Legislation Outlawing Biotechnology Experimentation (https://GLOBE.GLOBAL). He was formerly a senior manager at Genetic ID a global food testing safety and certification organisation (now known as FoodChain ID). He has written a book Discovering and Defending Your DNA Diet (available from Amazon and the HatchardReport.com). Dr Hatchard has advised governments on natural food legislation and the risks of GM Foods. He lives in New Zealand.

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Brownstone Institute

The WHO: Our New Overlords

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From the Brownstone Institute

BY John Mac GhlionnJOHN MAC GHLIONN

According to its website, the World Health Organization (WHO), a specialized agency of the United Nations, “works worldwide to promote health, keep the world safe, and serve the vulnerable.” In recent times, however, the organization has become a vehicle for corruptiondeceit, and Chinese propaganda.

The WHO is an incredibly powerful organization with 194 member states. When the WHO speaks, the world listens. When the WHO decides on a plan of action, the world changes.

As the piece demonstrates, the WHO has aspirations of becoming even more powerful than it already is. If successful, the consequences could prove to be severe.

Last year, Henry I. Miller, a physician and molecular biologist, wrote a stinging piece that took direct aim at the WHO’s “bungled response to the coronavirus.” Miller, like so many others around the world, was particularly disillusioned about the “misplaced trust” placed in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). As many readers no doubt recall, the CCP did its very best to conceal the COVID-19 outbreak that originated in Wuhan.

Because of the WHO’s numerous failures, Miller argued persuasively that the United States, whose “funding of UN activities exceeds that of every other country,” should refrain from financing the organization unless an “effective oversight and auditing entity” can be created to oversee operations.

In 2020, shortly after suspending financial support, the Trump administration began initiating a process to withdraw the United States from membership in the WHO. However, upon taking office in January 2021, President Joe Biden quickly reversed that decision and restored funding practices.

A few weeks after Miller’s well-argued piece, Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) introduced a bill designed to prevent the WHO from unilaterally imposing public health restrictions on the United States and violating the country’s national sovereignty. The legislation came after the decision-making body of the WHO, the World Health Assembly, met to discuss a “pandemic treaty.” If introduced, such a treaty would give the WHO far greater control over public health decisions in the United States.

Scott said: “The WHO’s radical ‘pandemic treaty’ is a dangerous globalist overreach. The United States of America must never give more power to the WHO.” He added that the bill would “ensure that public health matters in the country remain in the hands of Americans,” and it needed to be passed immediately. It wasn’t. It should have been.

From Jan. 9–13, clandestine meetings took place in Geneva, Switzerland. Those in attendance discussed the possibility of amending the WHO’s International Health Regulations (IHR). For the uninitiated, the regulations are considered an instrument of international law, a legally binding agreement of basically every country in the world (except Liechtenstein) that calls on members to detect, evaluate, report, and respond to public health emergencies in a coordinated manner.

Michael Nevradakis, a senior reporter for The Defender, warned that if the proposed IHR amendments are made, then WHO members would essentially be stripped of their sovereignty. As Nevradakis previously reported, the IHR framework already allows Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO director-general, “to declare a public health emergency in any country, without the consent of that country’s government.” The proposed amendments would give even more power to the director-general.

Francis Boyle, a professor of international law at the University of Illinois, told Nevradakis that the proposed changes could violate international law.

Boyle, a legitimate expert who played a pivotal role in drafting the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989, believes we are heading toward “a worldwide totalitarian medical and scientific police state,” which the WHO directly controls. That’s because the IHR regulations “are specifically designed to circumvent national, state and local government authorities when it comes to pandemics, the treatment for pandemics and also including in there, vaccines.”

It’s clear to Boyle that the WHO is preparing to adopt the regulations in May of 2023, just a few months from now.

The brilliant researcher James Roguski also shares Boyle’s concerns. He claims that the WHO is attempting a global power grab by morphing from an advisory organization into what can only be described as a global law-enforcement agency. If introduced, the IHR changes, he suggested, “would institute global digital health certificates, dramatically increase the billions of dollars available to the WHO and enable nations to implement the regulations WITHOUT respect for the dignity, human rights and fundamental freedoms of people.”

Although COVID-19 is now a distant memory for many, another pandemic, we’re told, is just around the corner. When it comes, the WHO may very well be in a position to order you, dear reader, to do exactly what it wants, when it wants. If these amendments are made in May, resistance may prove to be utterly futile.

Reposted from Epoch Times

 

Author

  • John Mac Ghlionn

    With a doctorate in psychosocial studies, John Mac Ghlionn works as both a researcher and essayist. His writing has been published by the likes of Newsweek, NY Post, and The American Conservative. He can be found on Twitter: @ghlionn, and on Gettr: @John_Mac_G

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