Jones's company, Free Speech Systems, LLC, has sued PayPal for the
its ban of Infowars because the controversial website "promoted
hate and discriminatory intolerance against certain communities
the complaint filed by Jones’s lawyers, Marc Randazza Legal group,
they accuse PayPal of banning Infowars "for no other reason than a
disagreement with the message plaintiff conveys” and call ban
"unconscionable" because PayPal has never advised users that "it
might ban users for off-platform activity."
is at this point well known that large tech companies, located
primarily in Silicon Valley, are discriminating against
politically conservative entities and individuals, including
banning them from social media platforms such as Twitter, based
solely on their political and ideological viewpoints,” Jones’
lawyers claim in the 15-page complaint.
claims PayPal’s decision was based purely on “viewpoint
discrimination.” He also says the decision was made based on
conduct that “had nothing to do with” the PayPal platform, which
purportedly violates Infowars’ contract with the
PayPal’s decision were allowed to stand, it would set "a dangerous
precedent for any person or entity with controversial views," the
what happened in Jones' own words:
September 21, 2018, after 18 years of service, and without any
prior warning, Defendant PayPal notified Plaintiff in a phone
call that, in 10 business days, it would issue a
“permanent limitation” on Plaintiff’s PayPal accounts. This
limitation will be permanent, and cannot be appealed.
limitation will prevent Plaintiff from withdrawing, sending, or
receiving money through PayPal, effectively preventing it from
using the PayPal accounts at all. The loss of the PayPal
accounts and future ability to use PayPal will significantly
reduce Plaintiff’s income in an amount that is not susceptible
to calculation, but more importantly PayPal deciding to kick
Plaintiff off its platform has harmed the legitimacy of
Plaintiff as a news organization in the eyes of the general
public and has already led to a loss of good will.
purported basis for the permanent limitation PayPal provided is
that content on the News Sites violated PayPal’s so-called
Acceptable Use (“AU”) Policy. Specifically, a PayPal
representative stated that, after extensively looking at the
News Sites, PayPal determined instances that “promoted hate and
discriminatory intolerance against certain communities and
AU Policy provides four categories of “Prohibited Activities.” Notably,
the prohibited activities only provide that a user “may not use
the PayPal service for activities that” fall into one or more of
the categories. Sub-paragraph 2 of the Prohibited Activities
section provides that a user may not use PayPal for activities
that “relate to transactions involving . . . (f) the promotion
of hate, violence, racial or other forms of intolerance that is
discriminatory or the financial exploitation of a crime . . . .
terms are purposely vague, and could conceivably (and
unconscionably) be applied to any speech at all, given
the opaque manner in which PayPal has applied them. The AU
Policy mentions nothing about valuating a user’s off-platform
activities as the basis for a finding that the user has violated
those asking, this is how Infowars describes Infowars in the
News Sites contain content that expresses negative views against
politically liberal people, communists, socialists, and
religious fanatics. Contributors to the News Sites, including
Mr. Jones, have often criticized specific members of political
parties, including former President George W. Bush and former
candidate Hillary R. Clinton.
information and belief, it is this highly political content that
PayPal claims constitutes a violation of its AU Policy.
accuses "large tech companies" located in Silicon Valley, of
"discriminating against politically conservative entities and
individuals, including banning them from social media platforms
such as Twitter, based solely on their political and ideological
has been the victim of this recently, as it has been banned from
various online platforms based solely on the viewpoints
expressed on Plaintiff’s programming.
also alleges that Paypal banned him from its payment-processing
platform "for no reason other than disagreement with the messages
Plaintiff conveys. PayPal engaged in this viewpoint-based
censorship despite stating that, in determining whether a user
violated its acceptable use policy, it would only consider conduct
actually involving the use of PayPal. PayPal’s decision to kick
Plaintiff off its platform had nothing to do with such
one can claim that PayPal, as a private company, has every right
to ban whomever it wants, even if it results in outright
discrimination, Jones disagrees and to plead his case invokes the
California Unruh Civil Rights Act:
discriminated against Plaintiff based on its political
viewpoints and politically conservative affiliation, thus
violating the California Unruh Civil Rights Act. PayPal is
engaged in unfair business practices by enforcing its
contractual terms in an unconscionable manner, namely
arbitrarily banning Plaintiff from its platform for off-platform
speech despite never claiming it might ban users for
off-platform activity. In doing so, it also violated the implied
covenant of good faith and fair dealing with Plaintiff.
Unruh Civil Rights Act (“Unruh”) guarantees that “all persons”
are “entitled to full and equal accommodations, advantages,
facilities, privileges, or services in all business
establishments of every kind whatsoever.”
the Unruh Act specifically forbids business establishments from
discriminating based on “sex, race, color, religion, ancestry,
national origin, disability, medical condition, genetic
information, marital status, sexual orientation, citizenship,
primary language, or immigration status”, this statutorily
enumerated list is illustrative, and not exhaustive, of the
characteristics on which business establishments may not
based on political affiliation or ideology is forbidden under
Unruh, as it is a personal characteristic.
as Jones finds his business impaired as a result of the ban...
is restraining Plaintiff’s commerce because it is politically
conservative and sells to a conservative audience. PayPal’s
actions amount to discrimination based on political viewpoint
and affiliation, which is forbidden under Unruh.
a ban which is not justified based on the acceptable use policy:
UA provides several examples of situations where PayPal might
issue a limitation, including “[i]f we reasonably believe you
have violated the Acceptable Use Policy.” None of these examples
allow PayPal to issue a limitation based on off-platform
activity, and all the examples are geared towards activity that
involves risky, fraudulent, or illegal financial transactions.
Jones also throws in allegations of PayPal being a monopoly (which
is not too far off) and thus once banned, he is effectively
precluded from online commerce.
is no adequate payment alternative to PayPal for Plaintiff’s
business model, as PayPal has eliminated competitors and has
taken a dominant market position in online payment processing.
Having effectively cornered the market, it is now using that
market power to restrain conservative trade and commerce.
method of enforcing the AU Policy and UA is an unfair business
practice under the UCL. It is fundamentally oppressive,
unethical, and injurious to customers because it allows PayPal
to lie to parties who use its services by claiming that
terminations and restrictions due to violations of the AU Policy
will be limited to activities that actually use the PayPal
service, while in fact looking at the user’s off-platform
a result, "PayPal’s
actions go far beyond any reasonable interpretation of the
language of its policies, and it is apparent that PayPal is
using its policies as a pretext to engage in political
discrimination without actually saying so. "
seeks damages and an injunction to stop PayPal from permanently
restricting his account.
its part, PayPay explained its rationale for banning Infowars in a
statement on its website Sept. 21: "We undertook an extensive
review of the Infowars sites, and
found instances that promoted hate and discriminatory
intolerance against certain communities and religions that run
counter to our core value of inclusion."
spokesman Justin Higgins said the company rejects the allegations
in Jones’ complaint: "PayPal is aware of the filing and believes
the claims in the complaint are without merit," Higgins said in an
email. "PayPal looks forward to vigorously defending itself."
Jones be successful in getting PayPal to "unban" him? Probably
not, but whatever the outcome the case will likely be closely
watched by other members of the media, and especially other
conservatives, to see if they have any legal claims in similar
situations, because for all his other faults, Jones is correct in
accusing Silicon Valley of cracking down on the "right" as both
Twitter and Google have admitted on various occasions in recent
weeks. And since it is the tech companies that are the true mass
media of our times, what, if any, legal remedies the general
public - or targeted entities - has against them is increasingly
becoming a critical question.
full complaint, California Northern District, Case 18-cv-06013,