Payment Processor Stripe Backs Off Dr. Malone After Legal Threat | ZeroHedge


From: zerohedge

Payment Processor Stripe Backs Off Dr. Malone After Legal Threat | ZeroHedge

Stripe, the only payment processor Substack writers can use, has backed off a demand that Dr. Robert Malone link his bank account, according to the law firm Dr. Malone retained.

Stripe earlier in March asked Dr. Malone, who has an EpochTV show, to "link the primary bank account for your business to your Stripe account," which would enable Stripe to review the account's "current account balance and transactions, as well as historical transactions," according to emails reviewed by The Epoch Times.

The request was part of "a routine credit review" of Dr. Malone's Substack, one email stated.

Stripe said that if the bank account was not linked, then it might block Dr. Malone from being paid.

The request "which deviated from Stripe's standard operating procedures, would have compelled Dr. Malone to provide extensive financial information from his business banking activities, including transactions and account balances spanning the entire history of his business bank account," Dhillon Law Group, which Dr. Malone hired to represent him in the matter, said in a statement.

After the legal firm reached out to Stripe, the company rescinded the demand, the law firm said.

"Financial service providers must tread carefully when requesting client data. It is critical to uphold the delicate balance between regulatory requirements and an individual's right to financial privacy," Mark Meuser, an attorney with the group, said in a statement. "We are satisfied with Stripe's decision to withdraw its request, allowing Dr. Malone to continue his valuable work without unnecessary intrusion into his business affairs."

Stripe has not responded to requests for comment. A Stripe spokesperson told The Federalist, "Stripe may, in certain instances, request users to link their bank account to assess businesses' liquidity as part of the underwriting process, but also allows businesses to submit a form with relevant information in lieu of linking their bank account."

That alternative was not presented to Dr. Malone, according to his lawyers.

Dr. Malone said retaining lawyers was expensive but a move he felt he had to make after neither Stripe nor Substack provided any options other than linking his account.

"It was a hard and costly decision to justify this level of cost and risk, but the risk of losing a business that had been developed over years of careful, daily customer service was too high to not take this seriously," he wrote on his Substack.

The result was the disclosure that, instead of linking his account, Dr. Malone could provide certain information on a form. The form requested information on which services Dr. Malone is selling through Stripe, and whether Dr. Malone accepts payments from customers before the customers receive the services, according to a screenshot of the document.

"In my opinion, it is very unfortunate that Stripe and Substack are pursuing these policies, which are absolutely contrary to the principles of support of free speech upon which Substack was founded. Stripe has apparently modified those web-based resources in which they has [sic] previously indicated that this policy was being implemented in response to Federal US Government pressure to delete any reference to Federal US Government actions prompting these policies," Dr. Malone wrote.

Dr. Malone was referring to a recent U.S. House of Representatives report that detailed how the U.S. government is conducting surveillance of financial providers, although neither Stripe nor Substack were mentioned in the report.

Substack responded in an automatic message to an inquiry, stating, "If you're a journalist reaching out with a press request, a member of our communications team will be in touch." No Substack employees ever responded to the inquiry.

"In this case, we were able to obtain prompt revision of the Stripe/Substack action by spending considerable funds to obtain highly qualified legal representation," Dr. Malone said. "But what of the average author who is either caught unaware by such policies or who cannot justify such legal costs? This appears to be a new normal, weaponization of finance and financial transactions to restrict and control free speech."


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