US & Canada

PayPal ordered to give info in Canada robocall search

A PayPal banner at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona 28 February 2012
Image caption ElectionsCanada has documents from RackNine that linked to a PayPal account, records show

Canada's electoral authority has ordered PayPal to produce records as it hunts the source of "robocalls" it says were used in a bid to suppress voting.

Elections Canada says that some of the 2011 calls were connected in some way to a Conservative campaign in Guelph.

Phone calls received there and elsewhere in Ontario directed voters to the wrong polling centre or attempted to alienate and harass voters.

The watchdog says RackNine, the calling company, is not under suspicion.

However, in an earlier press conference, New Democratic Party MP Pat Martinalleged linksbetween RackNine, Conservative campaigns and the robocalls.

RackNine responded by filing a C$5m (£3.1m)defamation suit against Mr Martinand the NDP based on his comments at that press conference and a TV interview.

In a summary of their complaint Rack Nine alleged that "Martin's words... in the very least, carried the innuendo that [CEO Matt] Meier and/or RackNine had committed criminal activity, fraudulent activity, participated in a conspiracy, intimidation, sabotage and/or deceit".

'Pierre Poutine'

PayPal said it was co-operating with the court order, but refused to comment further, citing user privacy concerns.

According to the Globe and Mail newspaper, officials received more than 31,000 complaints about allegedly fraudulent calls that occurred before the 2 May election.

One Tory MP has said that the robocalls - some which purported to be from Elections Canada - were probably an error on the agency's account.

Other complaints included harassing phone calls supposedly on behalf of political parties.

Elections Canada has been trying to unmask the person behind the alias "Pierre Poutine", alleged to be the source of the rogue calls.

It is not clear what the authority hoped to learn from PayPal.

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