Crypto-email Service ProtonMail Back After PayPal Unblocks Account

PayPal has reversed a controversial decision to block the account of encrypted email start-up ProtonMail which had originally threatened the firm’s very existence by freezing its crowdsourced funding.

Founding member Andy Yen wrote in a blog post earlier this week that the payments giant had notified the firm without prior warning that its account was “restricted pending further review”.
“Like many others, we have all heard the PayPal horror stories, but didn’t actually think it would happen to us on our campaign since PayPal promised, very recently, to improve their policies. Unfortunately, it seems those were hollow promises as ProtonMail is now the latest in a long string of crowdfunding campaigns to be hit with account freezes,” Yen wrote.
“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. It seems PayPal is trying to come up with ANY excuse they can to prevent us from receiving funds.”
ProtonMail is funded solely by an Indiegogo campaign so a lengthy PayPal account freeze could have forced it to shut down.
However, within 24 hours PayPal had un-frozen the Swiss start-up’s account, allowing it access to funds donated by supporters once again.
“Thank you for your support on this matter, it no doubt played a large part in getting PayPal to do the right thing in record time,” blogged Yen.
Anuj Nayar, senior director of global initiatives at PayPal, told The Register that the initial account block was a mistake. ProtonMail had been flagged for checking but an admin hit the wrong key and apparently froze the account, he said.
However, the payments firm is still checking why a representative questioned the legality of the service.
ProtonMail is a new “NSA proof” end-to-end encrypted email service developed by several former CERN employees, with servers based in Switzerland so they are nominally safe from access requests from the US.

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