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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.

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  • 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

The Great Demoralization

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From the Brownstone Institute

BY Jeffrey A. TuckerJEFFREY A. TUCKER  

On March 6, 2020, the mayor of Austin, Texas, canceled the biggest tech and arts trade show in the world, South-by-Southwest, only a week before hundreds of thousands were to gather in the city.

In an instant, with the stroke of a pen, it was all gone: hotel reservations, flight plans, performances, exhibitors, and all the hopes and dreams of thousands of merchants in the town. Economic impact: a loss $335 million in revenue at least. And that was just to the city alone, to say nothing of the broader impact.

It was the beginning of US lockdowns. It wasn’t entirely clear at the time – my own sense was that this was a calamity that would lead to decades of successful lawsuits against the Austin mayor – but it turned out that Austin was the test case and template for the entire nation and then the world.

The reason was of course Covid but the pathogen wasn’t even there. The idea was to keep it out of the city, an incredible and sudden fallback to a medieval practice that has nothing to do with modern public health understanding of how a respiratory virus should be handled.

“In six months,” I wrote at the time, “if we are in a recession, unemployment is up, financial markets are wrecked, and people are locked in their homes, we’ll wonder why the heck governments chose disease ‘containment’ over disease mitigation. Then the conspiracy theorists get to work.”

I was right about the conspiracy theorists but I had not anticipated that they would turn out to be right about nearly everything. We were being groomed for nationwide lockdowns.

At this point in the trajectory, we already knew the gradient of risk. It was not medically significant for healthy working-age adults (which still to this day the CDCs does not admit). So the shutdown likely protected very few if anyone.

The extraordinary edict – worthy of a tin-pot dictator of a dark age – completely overrode the wishes of millions, all on the decision of one man, whose name is Steven Adler.

“Was the consideration between maintaining that money, effectively rolling the dice, and doing what you did?” asked Texas Monthly of the mayor.

His answer: “No.”

Clarifying: “We made a decision based on what was in the best health interest for the city. And that is not an easy choice.”

After the shocking cancellation, which overrode property rights and free will, the mayor urged all residents to go out and eat at restaurants and gather and spend money to support the local economy. In this later interview, he explained that he had no problem keeping the city open. He just didn’t want people from hither and yon – the dirty people, so to speak – to bring a virus with them.

He was here playing the role of Prince Prospero in Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death.” He was turning the capital city of Texas into a castle in which the elite could hide from the virus, an action that also became a foreshadowing of what was to come: the division of the entire country into clean and dirty populations.

The mayor further added a strange comment: “I think the spread of the disease here is inevitable. I don’t think that closing down South Bay was intended to stop the disease from getting here because it is coming. The assessment of our public health professionals was that we were risking it coming here more quickly, or in a greater way with a greater impact. And the longer we could put that off, the better this city is.”

And there we have the “flatten the curve” thinking at work. Kick the can down the road. Postpone. Delay herd immunity as long as possible. Yes, everyone will get the bug but it is always better that it happens later rather than sooner. But why? We were never told. Flatten the curve was really just prolong the pain, keep our overlords in charge as long as possible, put normal life on hold, and stay safe as long as you can.

Prolonging the pain might also have served another surreptitious agenda: let the working classes – the dirty people – get the bug and bear the burden of herd immunity so that the elites can stay clean and hopefully it will die out before it gets to the highest echelons. There was indeed a hierarchy of infection.

In all these months, no one ever explained to the American public why prolonging the period of non-exposure was always better than meeting the virus sooner, gaining immunity, and getting over it. The hospitals around the country were not strained. Indeed, with the inexplicable shutdown of medical services for diagnostics and elective surgeries, hospitals in Texas were empty for months. Health care spending collapsed.

This was the onset of the great demoralization. The message was: your property is not your own. Your events are not yours. Your decisions are subject to our will. We know better than you. You cannot take risks with your own free will. Our judgment is always better than yours. We will override anything about your bodily autonomy and choices that are inconsistent with our perceptions of the common good. There is no restraint on us and every restraint on you.

This messaging and this practice is inconsistent with a flourishing human life, which requires the freedom of choice above all else. It also requires the security of property and contracts. It presumes that if we make plans, those plans cannot be arbitrarily canceled by force by a power outside of our control. Those are bare minimum presumptions of a civilized society. Anything else leads to barbarism and that is exactly where the Austin decision took us.

We still don’t know precisely who was involved in this rash judgment or on what basis they made it. There was a growing sense in the country at the time that something was going to happen. There had been sporadic use of lockdown powers in the past. Think of the closure of Boston after the bombing in 2013. A year later, the state of Connecticut quarantined two travelers who might have been exposed to Ebola in Africa. These were the precedents.

“The coronavirus is driving Americans into unexplored territory, in this case understanding and accepting the loss of freedom associated with a quarantine,” wrote the New York Times on March 19, 2020, three days after the Trump press conference that announced two weeks to flatten the curve.

The experience on a nationwide basis fundamentally undermined the civil liberties and rights that Americans had long taken for granted. It was a shock to everyone but to young people still in school, it was utter trauma and a moment of mental reprogramming. They learned all the wrong lessons: they are not in charge of their lives; someone else is. The only way to be is to figure out the system and play along.

We now see epic learning loss, psychological shock, population-wide obesity and substance abuse, a fall in investor confidence, a shrinkage of savings reflecting less interest in the future, and a dramatic decline in public participation in what used to be normal life events: church, theater, museums, libraries, fares, symphonies, ballets, theme parks, and so on. Attendance in general is down by half and this is starving these venues of money. Most of the big institutions in large cities like New York, such as Broadway and the Met, are on life support. The symphony halls have a third empty seats despite lowering prices.

It seems remarkable that this three-and-a-half year-long war against basic liberty for nearly everyone has come to this. And yet it should not be a surprise. All ideology aside, you simply cannot maintain much less cultivate a civilized life when governments, in combination with the commanding heights of media and large corporations, treat their citizens like lab rats in a science experiment. You only end in sucking away the essence and vibrancy of the human spirit, as well as the will to build a good life.

In the name of public health, they sapped the will to health. And if you object, they shut you up. This is still going on daily.

The ruling class that did this to the country has yet to speak honestly about what transpired. It was their actions that created the current cultural, economic, and social crisis. Their experiment left the country and our lives in shambles. We’ve yet to hear apologies or even basic honesty about any of it. Instead, all we get is more misleading propaganda about how we need yet another shot that doesn’t work.

History provides many cases of a beaten down, demoralized, and increasingly poor and censored majority population being ruled over by an imperious, inhumane, sadistic, privileged, and yet tiny ruling class. We just never believed we would become one of those cases. The truth of this is so grim and glaring, and the likely explanation of what happened so shocking, that the entire subject is regarded as something of a taboo in public life.

There will be no fixing this, no crawling out from under the rubble, until we get something from our rulers other than public preening about a job well done, in ads sponsored by Pfizer and Moderna.

Author

  • Jeffrey A. Tucker

    Jeffrey A. Tucker is Founder and President of the Brownstone Institute. He is also Senior Economics Columnist for Epoch Times, author of 10 books, including Liberty or Lockdown, and thousands of articles in the scholarly and popular press. He speaks widely on topics of economics, technology, social philosophy, and culture.

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Brownstone Institute

Yes, You Are Being Manipulated

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From the Brownstone Institute

BY Robert MaloneROBERT MALONE

Pubmed is a government aggregator site for peer-reviewed research.

Recently, a search on Pubmed using the search terms “COVID-19 vaccines” revealed a shocking trend. So, what did I find?

There are literally thousands of peer-reviewed studies on vaccine hesitancy and how the government can overcome it. In sum, there are over 6,000 such studies on Pubmed. A more narrowly focused search on endnote pulled up about 1,250 studies. These studies have a wide range of topics, but most focus on which groups of people are vaccine-hesitant, statistics on these populations, as well as how to overcome vaccine hesitancy through propaganda, censorship, the law, and behavioral control.

The fact is that our government, governments from around the world, the WHO and UNICEF have spent billions of dollars in a misguided attempt to try to figure out how to make people take (coerce, compel, and entice) these experimental medical products (COVID-19 vaccines). This was clearly a coordinated effort.

This monumental worldwide effort to manipulate beliefs has eliminated informed consent. Informed consent is the idea that a person must be given sufficient information before making decisions about their medical care. Pertinent information includes risks and benefits of treatments, the patient’s role in treatment, alternative treatments, and the person’s right to refuse treatment. When people cannot get reliable safety information on whether to take an experimental product or any medical product, when they are being coerced and are not informed of important safety considerations, informed consent is gone.

Of particular concern is the vaccine hesitancy clinical trials that are specifically designed to see what types of propaganda, nudging, computational propaganda, and behavioral modifications work best to elicit compliance from entire populations. In funding such studies, the government and worldwide leadership have endeavored to eliminate informed consent.

Remember, the US only has Emergency Use Authorized COVID vaccines available. These products have not had to go through the rigors of the clinical trial process to receive full licensure. Of course, much of what has been labeled as misinformation over the past three years has been proven to be truth. People were not allowed to know the truth through propaganda, censorship, and coercion.

These studies have been bought and paid for mostly by the US government, UNICEF or NGO/astroturf organizations working on their behalf.

This is basically taxpayer-funded market research to garner compliance for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. Marketing research and methods to coerce large populations by the US government for the likes of Pfizer and Moderna.

So, Dr. Mandy Cohen, the Director of the CDC is right. These experimental vaccines have been studied more than any vaccine in history – to ensure 100 percent uptake by the global population.


Below is a recent paper, whose authors work for the Health and Human Services – our government.

From the Abstract:

“the US Department of Health and Human Services launched the We Can Do This public education campaign in April 2021 to increase vaccine confidence.

The campaign uses a mix of digital, television, print, radio, and out-of-home channels to reach target audiences

The size and length of the Department of Health and Human Services We Can Do This public education campaign make it uniquely situated to examine the impact of a digital campaign on COVID-19 vaccination, which may help inform future vaccine communication efforts and broader public education efforts.

These findings suggest that campaign digital dose is positively associated with COVID-19 vaccination uptake among US adults; future research assessing campaign impact on reduced COVID-19–attributed morbidity and mortality and other benefits is recommended. This study indicates that digital channels have played an important role in the COVID-19 pandemic response. 

Digital outreach may be integral in addressing future pandemics and could even play a role in addressing nonpandemic public health crises.”

Re-read that last sentence again. Not only did the US government (HHS) have a huge campaign to program our minds during COVID to increase uptake of the “vaccine;” they are now planning how to use this “Digital outreach” for non-pandemic purposes…

This campaign was bombarded the American people with propaganda, paid for by the US Government. From the article:

The We Can Do This campaign aims to influence COVID-19 vaccine confidence and uptake through the dissemination of advertisements (eg, 30-second videos and static images with text) that address key attitudinal and behavioral constructs relevant to these outcomes across a mix of traditional and new media channels. These channels include television, radio, and print media; site direct (digital advertising directly purchased on websites), programmatic (digital advertising purchased through automated marketplace platforms to reach audiences across a range of websites, apps, and platforms), and paid social media (advertising bought directly on social media platforms) advertisements; earned media; partnerships; and influencer engagement. To reach diverse audiences, the campaign has engaged simultaneously with the general population and with specific racial and ethnic audiences through tailored communications in more than 14 languages, including English and Spanish.

Between April 5 and September 26, 2021, according to Nielsen Digital and Total Ad Ratings (see Multimedia Appendix 1), the campaign is estimated to have reached more than 90 percent of US adults an average of 20.9 times across measured television and digital channels (Nielsen Digital Ad Ratings, unpublished data, 2021). In addition to the campaign’s national reach, it also delivered extra ads to markets, zip codes, and population segments with higher proportions of vaccine-hesitant adults and higher COVID-19 prevalence. As the vaccination uptake rate varied across designated market areas (DMAs), the campaign also took vaccination rates into account when deciding where to deliver these extra ads to help encourage first-dose vaccination.

This campaign not only utilized propaganda, it is also used known neuro-linguistic programming techniques, such as repetitive messaging.

They then did a large clinical trial to see how these techniques affected people’s decision to get the mRNA “vaccine.” The results showed that this huge propaganda campaign was hugely successful in getting people to take the jab.


The problem with propaganda and censorship is that the use of such by governments and world leaders is that it is a slippery slope.

As documented in the paper above, our government leaders now know that the use of such tools was successful in increasing vaccine uptake. The administrative state is only going to increase their use of such techniques during the next health crisis. Climate change or gun violence seem logical choices for more governmental propaganda and censorship.

Yep – there is good evidence that the government is paying for studies such as these:

Finally, the public is waking up to these tactics. As the experimental vaccines failed, the masks were again documented to not work, the economic impact of the lockdowns was exposed and school age children now show cognitive declines from school closures, much of the public is skeptical and untrusting. This is a good thing. This is progress for the people, for our country.

The administrative state will not give up easily; they are only going to increase their use of these behavioral modification tools, propaganda, and censorship. But next time, they will have a bigger fight on their hands.

Republished from the author’s Substack


Author

  • Robert Malone

    Robert W. Malone is a physician and biochemist. His work focuses on mRNA technology, pharmaceuticals, and drug repurposing research. You can find him at Substack and Gettr

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