Speaking out against Corporate Censorship

UPDATE #2: Paypal has redefined its position and restricts its newest policy update to specific books which contain graphic images portraying bestiality, rape, or incest and they will not take the blanket action of disabling the individual account and withholding funds. More on CNET and The Verge.

UPDATE: It seems as if Paypal is likely to reverse it’s position this week. At least we are all watching and hoping. More at TechCrunch.

Does anyone reading this remember when Amazon.com removed copies of “1984” from their Kindle library and by extension from the “personal” Kindle library of anyone who had bought that particular copy of the classic novel by George Orwell? It was in July of 2009 and a New York Times blogger was quick to jump on the irony of the situation with a blog post entitled “Some eBooks are more equal than others“. Amazon explained, at the time, that the book was in violation of their terms of use and had been uploaded by a company who did not have the rights to upload the work at all. The irony of this situation is that the book in question is a frightening tale of control by the “Big Brother” in which our very thoughts are controlled and censored if we dare to have them.

I read the book some time ago and I can’t recall every detail, but I seem to remember snippets such as being watched while you sleep, eat, use sanitary facilities, and work. They use some complex form of body language monitoring to be able to tell when the person is having impure thoughts and are able to act immediately to “purge” those thoughts down the “memory hole”.

To say that Amazon’s actions were “Orwellian in nature” is quite the cliché but it fits. After a huge outcry, Amazon promised to never interfere with so-called private libraries in such a way again. At least, almost 2 decades after Orwell’s fictional story could have been true, the court of public opinion still carries much weight with the would-be “Big Brother” types.

Fast forward almost 3 years, and big corporations are at it again. This time, a completely non-related company is again telling us what to read and write and buy. Paypal.com has changed their policy and terms to prohibit the sale of erotica using the facilities provided by them. In other words, if you write erotica, you cannot accept payment through Paypal.com anymore. And if you read erotica and have been in the habit of buying from websites who employ a Paypal.com checkout system, you will have to start getting your fiction elsewhere.

This is the world we now live in – one in which anybody can tell us what is moral what we ought to be doing. And while I am not a huge fan of erotica, I recognize that some people write it really well. Free-eBooks.net does not currently host an erotica section, but we do have a Horror-Gothic section. And if the complaints about erotica are about it being morally inferior, when are they going to extend that judgement call on violent homicidal works such as “Diary of a Serial Killer“?

I don’t know about anyone else, but I think my morals are my own business; and certainly not the business of a corporation such as Paypal.com. While I applaud the effort in attempting to “clean up” society, this move goes well beyond acceptable. This kind of activity must be stopped.

Interested in making your voice heard? There are a number of petitions around the web that can be signed including change.org and The Petition Site.

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