Swedish Pirate Party Sues Banks For 'Discriminating' Against Wikileaks

from the standing? dept

Earlier this year, we noted that a court in Iceland had ordered Visa to start accepting donations to Wikileaks again. There's been some cat and mouse games as the various payment processors, under pressure from US officials, cut off the site a while back. The latest, however is that the Swedish Pirate Party itself has pressed charges against Swedish banks for discriminating against Wikileaks.
The charges were filed eariler today with the Swedish Finansinspektionen, the authority which oversees bank licenses and abuse of position. This follows an earlier initiative from the Pirate Party to regulate credit card companies on the European level in order to deny them the ability to determine who gets to trade and who doesn’t.

“The blockade is a serious threat against the freedoms of opinion and expression”, says the Pirate Party’s Erik Lönroth, who has been preparing the formal charges. “It must not be up to the individual payment provider to determine which organizations are eligible for donations. At the same time, these charges will bring clarity as to whether the bank regulations of today are sufficient, or if regulations need to be tightened to protect freedom of expression.”
I don't quite understand Swedish law, so it's not entirely clear to me how the Swedish Pirate Party has standing in which to bring these charges. However, it looks like "charges" basically mean asking the relevant regulatory body to investigate whether the actions are legal. Given how much power a very small number of payment companies have over what can and cannot accept money online, it would be nice for there to be some rules against discrimination. Of course, an even better answer would be to create more services that can accept payment...


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    Ninja (profile), Dec 18th, 2012 @ 3:34am

    Of course, an even better answer would be to create more services that can accept payment...

    Whenever I see complaints of how Google/Visa/Paypal/[insert big corp here] is evil for doing [insert typical monopolist behavior here] I think of Wall-e and that Buy'n'Large company. Because that's where we are walking towards (few gigantic companies although I also think that we'll garbage ourselves to extinction).

    With the capitalistic and predatory notion of profits first, everything else, small markets and shops succumb to the economic power of the big chains. And those big chains know that. They try to overwhelm the small player with a huge offer to buy their business and if they decline they set up a shop next door with filthy low prices till the small player go bankrupt.

    Much like Isla de Pascua, we are walking towards extinction on multiple fronts...

     

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      Tim Griffiths (profile), Dec 18th, 2012 @ 4:30am

      Re:

      In this context I guess this is the kind of thing bitcoin has been created to avoid. If it will be any good at that we'll have to see.

       

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Dec 18th, 2012 @ 4:39am

      Re:

      So long as the job creators are not overly burdened by the expense of sustaining their labor force ... it would be terrible if they did not continue the present trend of self enrichment at ridiculously unequal proportions because - let's face it - they have worked very hard, earned every penny and they deserve to be well compensated. And all this talk of unethical behavior is total bunk, these are the pillars of the community and would never do anything illegal.
      /s jic

       

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      identicon
      Michael, Dec 18th, 2012 @ 4:49am

      Re:

      Big does not mean monopolistic or consumer un-friendly.

      You refer to: "filthy low prices till the small player go bankrupt" and aim your guns at Wal-Mart. I heard this argument when they wanted to build a store near my cabin in Vermont. The reality is that Wal-Mart simply has better pricing. They have the same prices (basically) at all of their stores and the fact that these prices are lower than the small stores they compete with is actually good for consumers. It drives prices down. If a store cannot compete, they SHOULD go out of business, that's free market economics.

      Nobody is crying about Wal-Mart having to compete with Amazon (well, except Wal-Mart) because they are big, but Amazon has done essentially the same thing Wal-Mart has been doing, they figured out a way to compete by lowering costs and prices. This is all consumer-friendly activity.

       

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        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Dec 18th, 2012 @ 5:00am

        Re: Re:

        your comments on how a big chain store is better, only considers the price competitiveness during the transition phase befor the small shop goes under.

         

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          identicon
          Michael, Dec 18th, 2012 @ 7:15am

          Re: Re: Re:

          If lower quality or better service was a concern to the majority of customers, they wouldn't shop at wal-mart.

          I'm not a particular fan of wal-mart, but what they have shown us is that the majority of people seem to want low prices and everything in one giant store. This appears to be more important than good customer service, high quality merchandise, or cleanliness (if my local store is a good example).

          Their practices appear to be less predatory than simply supplying what customers want.

           

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        Anonymous Coward, Dec 18th, 2012 @ 5:07am

        Re: Re:

        What are you - a PR wanker?

        The Walmart subsidy ... yeah that's real good for those at the top - however it is crapola for everyone else.

        Do not be surprised when others disagree with your assertion that Walmart is wonderful and should be worshiped. Look around, educate yourself and you might find reasons to castigate Walmart, others certainly have and for good reason.

         

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          Gothenem (profile), Dec 18th, 2012 @ 5:28am

          Re: Re: Re:

          While I am not singing Wal-Mart's praises, but Michael does have a point. This is the free market at work. By lowering prices, Wal-Mart has given themselves a competitive advantage, and if other stores cannot follow suit, they will fail. This is reality. Of course, Wal-Mart has a track record of treating employees badly. This is where the government needs to step in and enforce their regulations.

          Wal-Mart has suddenly found itself loosing sales to online sources, who can undercut even Wal-Mart's "Low Prices". If Wal-Mart can't compete with these online stores, then it will also fail. This is the free market at work.

           

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          identicon
          Michael, Dec 18th, 2012 @ 7:19am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "your assertion that Walmart is wonderful and should be worshiped"

          Wow - time for you to take a debate class. I never said they were wonderful - or that I even like their stores. What I am saying is they appear to be successful at giving customers what they want and their business practices do not appear to be predatory or causing consumer harm.

           

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        Ninja (profile), Dec 18th, 2012 @ 9:27am

        Re: Re:

        Big does not mean monopolistic or consumer un-friendly.

        Till they are the only ones in the market. I was not talking about Wal-Mart but another big chain in Brazil.

        In any case, it may be consumer-friendly now but is it wise in the long run? It has been proven that it's the small businesses that actually generate jobs as they are not that eager to maximize profits at all costs for insanely huge profit margins. Of course the wages may be lower per employee but in the end isn't it better to have more people employed even if the overall wage is somewhat lower?

        You see, I'm not saying that out of pure experience and I'm sure there's room for discussion but keeping the prices artificially lower than your competition to drive it out of business is not what I'd call right. To take your example, Wal-Mart can open a shop and keep the prices lower than the competition for a while if it serves its purposes. The small market from that countryside town probably can't sustain it for long. And maybe, just maybe, it has better employee and consumer treatment even if it's not the best price.

        Food for thought.

         

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        John Fenderson (profile), Dec 18th, 2012 @ 10:03am

        Re: Re:

        The reality is that Wal-Mart simply has better pricing.


        There's a lot more to it than that. Take a look at the terrible things Wal-mart does to obtain those price points.

        They have the same prices (basically) at all of their stores and the fact that these prices are lower than the small stores they compete with is actually good for consumers.


        Actually, it's not. There is a temporary consumer benefit, but in the long run the pricing scheme leads to reduced wages in the area and a tendency toward under-employment. As a percentage of income, consumer purchasing power actually falls.

        And there are tons and tons of Amazon detractors, who have many of the same complaints as those about Wal-Mart. Also, Amazon does seem to have less of a corrosive effect on any given community than a Wal-Mart does. Amazon's harm is spread over a wider population base.

        they figured out a way to compete by lowering costs and prices


        Yes, and their way is by externalizing costs. They aren't saving consumers money, they're shifting where that money must get spent, and are increasing the total cost in the end.

         

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          Ninja (profile), Dec 18th, 2012 @ 10:15am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Thanks for the enlightening comment. I personally don't know much about how Wal-Mart operates put it's pretty much what's happening here.

           

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 18th, 2012 @ 4:52am

    Governments need some though love.

    Facebook Parenting: For the troubled teen. by Tommy Jordan(aka

    Quote:
    Chuck Norris 30 minutes ago:
    What a great father.


    ps: Please don't think that is good parenting, and if you doubt look at this first Facebook Parenting- continued by barelypolitical

     

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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Dec 18th, 2012 @ 5:37am

    Ever notice what Mike avoids?

    It's more important than the spin he wants to put on items. He puts on the appearance of being for good causes, but there's always a poison pill or a diversion from clear case.

    Here he somehow manages to avoid the root cause, not even mentioning the extra-legal way in which US gov't pressured Paypal plus filehosts and others to hamper Wikileaks. Here's as close as he gets: "Given how much power a very small number of payment companies have over what can and cannot accept money online," -- But still not a hint of the real problem: gov't-corporate collusion. Not even a hint that corporations shouldn't have so much power.

    And his vague solution? : "Of course, an even better answer would be to create more services that can accept payment..." -- A future theoretical. Instead of forcing existing corporations to act impartially toward all -- and by the way, Mike, that's COMMON LAW, well-based through the entire world, including in the US ever since lunch counters were forced to serve people with dark skin, it's just FAIRNESS in practice -- anyway, Mike's solution is some vague freedom to set up parallel services that are just as easily shut down by a phone call from some gov't "official" to wherever they bank. Any and all effort put into those can literally be dissipated in five minutes.

    NO, MIKE, we have to force corporations to follow the common law and do what's right, and ALSO attack the root: keep the gov't from either pressuring or favoring corporations.

    After three years, I can't find any evidence that Mike is concerned about even overt fascism. He's totally pro-corporate (for a small bunch of grifters whom he deems "innovators").

     

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      silverscarcat (profile), Dec 18th, 2012 @ 5:54am

      OOTB...

      Every time I see you post, I just click report.

      I'm sure that most everyone else does too.

      Your posts aren't even worth reading.

      How sad is that?

      Isn't it sad, ootb?

       

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        G Thompson (profile), Dec 18th, 2012 @ 6:10am

        Re: OOTB...

        In other words he's a copapathetic Ignoranus!

        ie: he's an ignorant asshole who we all blithely accept to be tragic & pathetic

        *sad face now*

         

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        Zakida Paul (profile), Dec 18th, 2012 @ 6:47am

        Re: OOTB...

        Personal attacks on Mike aside, he does have a point about Government/Corporation collusion. Corporations are far too powerful in politics and justice and governments are doing absolutely nothing about it because they don't want the donations (bribes) to stop.

         

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          silverscarcat (profile), Dec 18th, 2012 @ 8:40am

          Re: Re: OOTB...

          If he'd cut the attacks out and started posting stuff that wasn't laden with so much ad hom and other fallacies, I wouldn't click report like I do.

          He's got a LONG way to go before I stop clicking report when I see his name.

          However, I do agree that something needs to be done about corporations like Wal-mart.

           

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          John Fenderson (profile), Dec 18th, 2012 @ 10:05am

          Re: Re: OOTB...

          he does have a point about Government/Corporation collusion


          Yes, but it's a point that is regularly made here anyway. His real claim isn't about that, it's that people here are ignoring it. That is false.

           

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Dec 18th, 2012 @ 6:05am

      Re: Ever notice what Mike avoids?

      Dear God you're an idiot!

      That's all.

       

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      Cory of PC (profile), Dec 18th, 2012 @ 6:29am

      Re: Ever notice what Mike avoids?

      Blue... I have no words to describe you. I know you're going to post here, but really it's hard to describe how dumb you can be some times. Sure there are words, but to find the right one is impossible.

      Please, for all of the times I tell you to get off the computer, for the love of God DO THAT! Seek medical help! There're people out there that can treat you! No one's going to (or will) take you seriously if you keep on posting this nonsense!

       

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      dennis deems (profile), Dec 18th, 2012 @ 6:45am

      Re: Ever notice what Mike avoids?

      This post is coherent, makes an actual point, is not abusive. I can't agree with keeping the gov't from pressuring corporations: if the gov't didn't pressure corporations we'd still be driving around without seat belts in our cars. Still, I'm damned if I can understand the problem other TD's have with the post. Maybe ootb has trained them so well that opposing him has become a reflex.

       

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      dennis deems (profile), Dec 18th, 2012 @ 6:48am

      Re: Ever notice what Mike avoids?

      This post is coherent, makes an actual point, is not abusive. I can't agree with keeping the gov't from pressuring corporations: if the gov't didn't pressure corporations we'd still be driving around without seat belts in our cars. Still, I'm damned if I can understand the problem other TD's have with the post. Maybe ootb has trained them so well that opposing him has become a reflex.

       

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      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
         
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Dec 18th, 2012 @ 7:24am

        Re: Re: Ever notice what Mike avoids?

        Typical Kim Jung-Masnick fanboy reaction. Any questioning of Exalted Leader is met with immediate censorship. Shockingly, but predictably; no one sees the irony in their misguided attempts to squelch such commentary however benign.

         

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        Michael, Dec 18th, 2012 @ 7:24am

        Re: Re: Ever notice what Mike avoids?

        "if the gov't didn't pressure corporations we'd still be driving around without seat belts in our cars"

        That is hardly a reasonable assertion. I think automotive safety is important to consumers - in fact, Volvo is certainly a great case study for that. Many consumers clearly will pay more for a safer car. Had the government not gotten involved, it seems likely that consumers would have eventually pressured auto makers into adding safety belts by simply purchasing cars that had them rather than purchasing cars without them.

        People make decisions on car purchases today based on having or not having side-curtain airbags.

        I am not an expert, but I would be very surprised if the majority of safety features on today's automobiles were a result of a threat from a government rather than from pressure from consumers that wanted a safer vehicle.

         

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          John Fenderson (profile), Dec 18th, 2012 @ 10:09am

          Re: Re: Re: Ever notice what Mike avoids?

          I would be very surprised if the majority of safety features on today's automobiles were a result of a threat from a government rather than from pressure from consumers that wanted a safer vehicle.


          Then prepare to be surprised, because the majority of safety features on modern cars only exist because of legislation. They were fought tooth-and-nail by automotive companies, on the grounds that they increase the cost of the automobile and people don't really want them.

           

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    art guerrilla (profile), Dec 18th, 2012 @ 7:50am

    hard to choose...

    stand with greedy, soul-sucking, evil korporate borgs like the MAFIAA (and their international spawn), or stand with the pirates...
    hmmm...
    you leave me no choice (literally and figuratively):
    i'm with the pirates...

    FOAD MAFIAA...

    art guerrilla
    aka ann archy
    eof

     

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    Mark, Dec 18th, 2012 @ 8:07am

    OOTB, this time you seemingly have a point, but I don't know why you are railing against Mike here. If you paid attention to his writings, you would know that he has already made those points and you are agreeing with him.
    Here he somehow manages to avoid the root cause, not even mentioning the extra-legal way in which US gov't pressured Paypal plus filehosts and others to hamper Wikileaks

    He has complained about the root cause, as you say:
    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20101201/17390512086/wikileaks-ice-domain-seizures-show-how-p rivate-intermediaries-get-involved-government-censorship.shtml
    "beyond the problem that the government would be doing this in the first place is a separate concern: the role of corporations in helping make this happen. Some have argued, in the case of Amazon, that as a private company it has the right to refuse service to anyone. That's absolutely true. But if it's refusing service based on political pressure from those in positions of power, that's still censorship."

    And on a related article, but not about wikileaks:
    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20101207/09264812164/visa-mastercard-kkk-is-a-ok-wikile aks-is-wicked.shtml
    This reinforces the point we recently made about the role of corporate intermediaries in being able to aid governments in censorship, even in the absence of a trial or conviction. Either way, this is a really sad statement about both Visa and MasterCard and their willingness to cave to government pressure.

    This was just on a quick review of the links under the byline, I'm sure I can pull more examples if I spent a little bit of time. As a new reader, it would help to follow these sometimes to try and see what has been posted in the past about these very issues.

     

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    fenixbrood (profile), Dec 18th, 2012 @ 8:10am

    Processor

    Mastercard and Visa are payment processors. They are required by law to process the payments. Wikileaks is legal in Sweden so they have to process payment regardless of what the united states (or a american company) thinks about them. They will loose their licence to operate as a payment processor if they don't treat organisations equal.

    If Visa don't transfer money they have stolen the money.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Dec 18th, 2012 @ 9:43am

      Re: Processor

      They are required by law to process the payments

      Really? What law? And while you're futilely looking for that, go read the TOS.

       

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        ferridder (profile), Dec 18th, 2012 @ 12:45pm

        Re: Re: Processor

        5 kap. 11 § lag (2010:751) om betaltjänster, surely?

        Visa and Mastercard need to comply with this Swedish law if they want to do business in Sweden.

         

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        ferridder (profile), Dec 18th, 2012 @ 12:47pm

        Re: Re: Processor

        5 kap. 11 § lag (2010:751) om betaltjänster, surely?

        Visa and Mastercard need to comply with this Swedish law if they want to do business in Sweden.

         

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        ferridder (profile), Dec 18th, 2012 @ 12:49pm

        Re: Re: Processor

        5 kap. 11 § lag (2010:751) om betaltjänster, surely?

        Visa and Mastercard need to comply with this Swedish law if they want to do business in Sweden.

         

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    fenixbrood (profile), Dec 18th, 2012 @ 8:15am

    I dont agree with " Of course, an even better answer would be to create more services that can accept payment..." that implies to me: So you need 22 accounts so you can transfer money to whom ever you want?

     

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      That One Guy (profile), Dec 18th, 2012 @ 11:04am

      Re:

      No, it's more like 'you need 22 companies that deal with transferring money, so if you decide you don't want to do business, or use one for your transactions, you can switch to another one'.

       

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    Rick Falkvinge, Dec 18th, 2012 @ 9:06am

    Difference between Swedish and Common Law

    Sweden is not a Common Law country with its roots in British law, as the land was never conquered by the British (actually, the raids went the other direction). As such, Swedish laws have different origins.

    This is not a civil lawsuit, but a formal complaint to a regulatory authority which will act on complaints from the public. You can liken it to public prosecution which results from somebody filing a police report, but where this is in a specific field (and where the charges filed need to be quite carefully prepared for the field and overseeing authority).

    Cheers,
    Rick

     

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    Erik Lönroth, Dec 18th, 2012 @ 9:49am

    Why and how

    The application I wrote will either:

    A. It will be archived and no action will be taken by Finansinspektionen. We then know that the law needs to be fixed and Piratpartiet can set out to do just that.

    B. Finansinspektionen issues some kind of penalty for missabuse of their market dominance. Most likely a fine of some kind that will be big enough for the banks to start acting. There is little chance the payment service providers will be denied business as this would stop all internet and regular trade in Sweden more or less.

    So, all in all - we can certainly win this fight.

    /Erik Lönroth

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 19th, 2012 @ 2:22am

    "Visa, it's everywhere you want to be"... except at Wikileaks.

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2013 @ 1:01am

    unfortunately I don't see sweden ruling this illegal as the swedes are now beholden to the US and would rather sell out it's own principles than piss off the US

     

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