Britain says payments companies’ clients may need protecting from ‘cancel culture’
The review covers existing regulations that apply to more than 1,000 firms authorized as payment and electronic money services in the UK. The ministry said the process sought to help an innovative and internationally competitive payments sector flourish as technology advances.
As part of the wider review, the government will assess whether clearer guidelines are needed on when companies can withdraw services from customers, the ministry said.
“At a minimum, it is the government’s view that, without deviation, a fair and open period of notice and communication with a client should apply in situations involving termination for reasons other than suspected or actual criminal offenses or when otherwise permitted by law. ,” the ministry said in its review document.
He noted recent “high-profile cases” involving PayPal Europe, which terminated and later reinstated a number of user accounts, without publicly disclosing its reasons.
PayPal canceled the online payment accounts of the Daily Sceptic, which challenged the scientific consensus on global warming and COVID-19 vaccines, and the Free Speech Union, which criticized ‘cancel culture’, together with the account of its founder Toby Young.
The ministry said that the terminations raised concerns in the media and in parliament that the bills were withdrawn because of the views of these two organisations.
“The government believes that free speech in law, and the legitimate expression of different views, is an important British freedom,” the ministry said.
“The government does not support ‘cancel culture’ – the censorship of views due to intolerance of dissenting opinion.”
PayPal did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
The rules, which Britain adopted when they joined the European Union, already require payment companies to give notice to customers when they close an account.
The government will assess whether the termination rules need further clarification or broader change to protect freedom of expression, the ministry said.
(Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel)
By Huw Jones