PayPal freezes account of secure email startup ProtonMail, asking “Is it legal?”

Gigaom

About 6 weeks ago my colleague Barb Darrow covered a new secure email startup called ProtonMail, which was set up by a bunch of MIT, Harvard and CERN researchers who are annoyed with the NSA’s intrusive ways.

The team’s Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign has done pretty well in the last 2 weeks, thus far raising $283,675 off a $100,000 goal. There’s only one snag for Geneva-headquartered ProtonMail, which is keen to rent servers and get the product out of beta… PayPal(s pypl) has frozen its account.

It’s hard to judge whether to file this under “PayPal being annoying because of its historically over-cautious take on crowdfunding” (which it promised to fix) or “PayPal being annoying because of its politics” (see also: the cutting-off of Wikileaks’ funds). In a blog post on Monday, the ProtonMail team began by erring towards the former explanation:

Like many others, we have all heard…

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