Coincidence or Not? Google App Engine Blocks PayPal

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The Google App Engine, the search giant’s new platform for building and hosting 3rd party web apps, is blocking applications from integrating with PayPal for payments.  Considering that Google has their own payments system – Google Checkout – is this just an honest mistake, or is there something more sinister going on? 

The Washington Post uncovered today that developers making apps that use PayPal for payment handling are encountering a peculiar error.   You see, usually the application sends a request to the PayPal service, and contains paypal.com in the URL. Requests, however, to either of the domains used (paypal.com or sandbox.paypal.com) are returning a generic “download” error with no specific details. 

Some clever developers found a way around it, and not too long after, a Google employee issued a statement, saying that it was merely an accident:

Thanks for the report! This is a bug, and we have located the problem. There was an error in our anti-phishing protections that was blocking some specific URL domains from being fetched using the URLFetch service. This was an oversight on our part, and these specific domain restrictions will be removed in the next few days.

But can we believe them?  As the Post points out, “Google’s anti-phishing blacklist does not, of course, list the paypal.com domain as a phishing site” and there’s been a lot of bad blood between Google and PayPal’s parent company, eBay.

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