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Top Energy & Commerce, Financial Services Republicans Seek Answers Regarding PayPal’s Anti-Free Speech Policy


10.18.22

Washington, D.C. — Today, House Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and the top Republican on the House Financial Services Committee, Patrick McHenry (R-NC), along with Morgan Griffith (R-VA) and Tom Emmer (R-MN), the top Republicans on each Committees’ Oversight Subcommittees, sent a letter to PayPal President and CEO Dan Schulman. The Republican Leaders are seeking answers regarding the recently published, and later removed, changes to PayPal’s Acceptable Use Policy that would stifle free speech. 

Read the letter to PayPal here or below: 

“Dear Mr. Schulman: 

“Thank you for the briefing provided to Minority staff of the House Committees on Energy and Commerce and Financial Services (the Committees) on October 11, 2022. As a follow-up to the briefing, we write to request more information on the changes made to PayPal’s Acceptable Use Policy (AUP). On October 8, 2022, PayPal updated its AUP to prohibit users from transactions that ‘involve the sending, posting or publication of any messages, content, or materials’ that are objectionable as determined by ‘PayPal’s sole discretion.’  A fine of $2,500 would be imposed on objectionable violations, including transactions that promote misinformation, or depict or promote criminal activity.  Later that day, a PayPal spokesperson stated that the updated user agreement ‘went out in error’ and ‘included incorrect information.’  A copy of the since removed AUP is attached. 

“As a leading financial technology company, it is concerning that a user agreement that contemplates the restriction of free speech was uploaded and disseminated to PayPal users – even if in error. We understand your company is currently investigating this matter. Upon the conclusion of your investigation, we request that you provide a briefing for the Committees as soon as practicable. In addition, to assist the Committees in better understanding PayPal’s processes for changing its AUP, please provide written answers to the following questions: 

  1. Where and with whom did the text of the October 8, 2022 AUP originate? 
  2. What is PayPal’s approval process for changes made to the AUP? Are there PayPal guidelines that document this process?  If so, please share the guidelines related to the AUP. Who is authorized to make the changes? 
  3. Did the text that was updated October 8, 2022 go through the typical approval process? 
  4. Were the changes made to the AUP on October 8, 2022 ever contemplated within PayPal? 
  5. How and at what frequency is the AUP updated? 
  6. Were any entities affected by the updated AUP issued October 8, 2022? If so, please list these entities. 
  7. What are your internal control policies for making changes to PayPal’s AUP? 
  8. What is the notice requirement given to PayPal customers for an updated AUP? 
  9. Is there any indication an external party updated the AUP? If not, how do you know? 
  10. Are third-party contractors held to same internal protocols and standards as PayPal employees? 
  11. With respect to violations of the AUP, is a fined individual notified with specificity? 
  12. Is there an appeals process for violations of the AUP? If so, what is it? 
  13. In the briefing you provided to the committees you indicated that the company was handling the investigation internally. Can you please provide the process for that investigation? 
  14. What is the timeline of your investigation? 
  15. Have any PayPal employees met with the Executive Branch regarding disinformation initiatives? If so, please name the employees, their affiliations, and the dates of the meetings. 

“Please provide your response as soon as possible, but no later than Thursday, October 27, 2022.” 

Letter