The MailPile project made a disturbing announcement on their blog earlier today, announcing that, of the $135,000 they raised in a whirlwind Indigogo fundraising campaign, Paypal, the payment processor used by Indigogo, has frozen $45,000 and nobody knows when or if they plan to release it.
MailPile is an open source project with the goal of creating a secure, easy to use, webmail client that integrates things like PGP and other privacy preserving features. There's been a lot of excitement around the project since the fundraising campaign started and this could be a serious blow if it's not resolved.
As many of you know, this is not the first time Paypal has frozen an account for dubious reasons. There's a whole website dedicated to Paypal horror stories and many developers and contractors have found themselves unfortunate victims of Paypal's wishy-washy attitude about 'possible fraud'. It seems like that's the general excuse the company uses when it wants to hold onto someone's money for an indefinite amount of time without any detailed explaination.
In the case of MailPile, though, Paypal did offer a 'resolution; of sorts: they wanted a detailed breakdown of how the MailPile team plans to use the money,
While I understand Paypal's position of trying to protect their customers, it's fairly obvious that MailPile isn't conducting fraud and they're not a threat to any Paypal customer. Why Paypal would choose to freeze their account while countless others of questionable merit go unfrozen is beyond my comprehension.
For now, the MailPile team asks that the community not take any drastic action. They certainly don't want us to cancel our donations since it seems one of the things Paypal is concerned with is chargebacks. They ask that, if you're concerned about what's going on, speak out. Write to Paypal (a cordial letter) or blog about it. Speak about it on Twitter and let people know what's going on. This is probably the best way we can help MailPile now.
I also want to encourage anyone considering donating to the MailPile campaign to do so via Bitcoin instead of Paypal. I noticed that the project had a Bitcoin address on their site and I think that's probably one of the most assured ways that they will see a direct benefit from your donation. While you likely won't get any of the perks associated with the Indiegogo campaign (or maybe you will, I don't know), it's a great way to support the project outside of Paypals grasp.
You can find their Bitcoin address on the main page of their site.