Shortly after Netflix expanded to cover more countries across the globe, they started a war on VPNs by upgrading their system to weed out people using VPNs to stream content. Due to licensing rights and other geopolitical issues, some contents of Netflix are banned in some countries. To get round this, people sign up to VPNs to masked or change their location while online. That way they can get to stream all contents on Netflix.
Now Netflix is gaining an ally in this war on VPNs. PayPal, the US based, biggest online payment system in the world, has decided to join the war on VPNs. Unlike Netflix, PayPal is not going to start blocking or cracking down on people using VPN to access PayPal services. It is going after the money by stopping people from paying for VPNs using PayPal.
“Under the PayPal Acceptable Use Policy, PayPal may not be used to send or receive payments for items that infringe or violate any copyright, trademark, right of publicity or privacy, or any other proprietary right under the laws of any jurisdiction.
This includes transactions for any device or technological measure that descrambles a scrambled work, decrypts an encrypted work or otherwise avoids, bypasses, removes, deactivates or impairs a technological measure without the authority of the copyright owner.”
This would come as a relief, in a way to many Nigerians who use PayPal services for online transactions. Because PayPal services in Nigeria is restricted to just paying for goods and services online (i.e, one cannot receive payment or funds transfer into their PayPal account in Nigeria), people use VPN to get round this restriction. The PayPal servers would see the account as ‘not Nigerian’ therefore allowing the account to receive funds from another PayPal account.
A Canadian based VPN, UnoTelly, was the first to reveal the news publicly. It is very likely that PayPal had also communicated it decisions to other major VPN providers around the world. In a blog post to its customers informing them about the current situation with PayPal, UnoTelly informed them that:
“On February 3rd, 2016, PayPal has severed payment processing agreement unilaterally and without prior warning. PayPal indicated that UnoTelly is not allowed to provide services that enable open and unrestricted Internet access.
As result, UnoTelly can no longer accept payment from PayPal. This development is outside of our control, and we sincerely apologize for the inconvenience.
If you believe in an open Internet and value the services UnoTelly is providing, we hope you would continue your subscription by updating your payment method from PayPal to credit card.
Here is how to update your payment method:
If you have a preferred method of payment, please leave a comment below!
Thank you again for your support.”
This decision by PayPal to join the war against VPNs is not necessarily right. People use VPN services for many reasons outside of accessing sites like Netflix. Some of these reasons can be as important as hiding from oppressive government agents in states like China, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. Political activists and NGO’S in many countries find the use of VPNs very valuable to their operations.
Fortunately, PayPal is not the only online payment portal in the world. As the UnoTelly post rightly pointed out, there are other options too in how users pay for VPNs. But this unofficial war on VPNs is becoming a worrying trend. Because the question now is, what if other online payment portals join in this war on VPNs?
For now though, we in Nigeria can still use the fully paid-up (or free) VPN services.