Iceland Considers Revoking Visa/MasterCard Licenses For Wikileaks Ban

from the what-legal-grounds dept

With Visa and MasterCard cutting off payments for Wikileaks, it appears that some Icelandic politicians are threatening to remove both companies’ operating licenses in that country. Apparently, the Icelandic Parliamentary General Committee has asked both companies to explain what legal grounds they used for cutting off Wikileaks and, without evidence of legitimate reasons, both companies could lose their operating licenses. We had already noted that Icelandic firm DataCell, which was handling the payments for Wikileaks, was planning to sue both companies but it appears that the Icelandic government may help out. Of course, I would imagine that Visa and Mastercard both care about keeping the US government more happy than the Icelandic government…

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Companies: datacell, mastercard, visa, wikileaks

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Comments on “Iceland Considers Revoking Visa/MasterCard Licenses For Wikileaks Ban”

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Freak says:

Re: Re: Re:

:p The problem is that when “we” become “them”, well, then we’re all a bunch of douches.

I’m not sure that Visa or Mastercard did anything wrong in denying wikileaks service. I don’t like it. But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be allowed to refuse service.
I’m pissed that one of them, (was it visa?), claimed it was because of illegal activities. But even then, I would only expect them to be due for libel, not being forced to take up the account again.

Olbe says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Americans are used to corporations being unaccountable and doing whatever they want. But many countries have laws that outlaw discrimination on the base of race, sex and political beliefs.

Even so VISA and Master card started shutting down accounts based on whether the holder was black or Jewish or a Republican they would suddenly be up in arms.

ChimpBush McHitlerBurton says:

Re: But think of the ads...

Ha!, Or…

“Visa…It’s everywhere you want to be…except donating money to causes we don’t like.”


That “DeCSS” T-Shirt you love?… $25
Yearly contribution to FreeSpeech TV?… $100
Pirate Radio Books and Supplies?… $150

Your Donation to WikiLeaks?… Fuck You


Hephaestus (profile) says:

“I would imagine that Visa and Mastercard both care about keeping the US government more happy than the Icelandic government…”

That is until the EU decide to push for an EU credit card due to privacy concerns and violations of EU law. Also the last thing Visa will probbably want is for someone to ask for legal clarification from the EU court system on whether this is a legal move by Visa – Master card.

Paul Brinker (profile) says:

Iceland is not part of the EU

Iceland, while friends with many Nordic country’s, is not part of the EU, does not use the EU court or the Euro. Its simply a sovereign nation that uses more plastic then cash.

Its also a vary funny place in terms of loans, Many loans were priced in Euro’s while locals were paid in Isk. When Isk values dropped by 50% many houses were taken over by the banks. Only… Only people who want to live in Iceland are already there, make half as much, so the houses are just getting bought back for less then the original loans by locals.

Iceland is one of the few country’s that can give anyone the finger and be non-the worse for it. Mostly because no one wants to live there.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Iceland is not part of the EU

“I would if they’d have me. I hate California.”

Yeah, that dude’s crazy. Iceland is pretty much the stone tits. Decent economy (other than the last year or so), fairly sensible govt., good music, not crowded, temperature that varies little all year round (25 degree low, 60 degree high is just fine by me), killer seafood, awesome snowboarding, rolling green hills with the awesome turf houses, progressive energy policy, and a standing w/the rest of the world that we would kill for.

Plus Icelandic women are freakin’ hot, and according to some sources not so picky when it comes to who they sleep with:

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re: Iceland is not part of the EU

When Isk values dropped by 50% many houses were taken over by the banks.

Wow, I am such a nerd. When I read this, I thought to myself…hell, when did ISK drop that much… Better log into Eve and start buying stuff since the prices are never gonna get that good ever again. Eve = yet another awesome product of Iceland.

Oh, Isk = Icelandic Krona… Hehe.

Dave says:

Re: Iceland is not part of the EU

Its lovely that you read a few articles about Iceland and the economic crisis. You think that now you know everything there is to know about Iceland. However, you’re talking about something from 2 and a half years ago. Things have changed. Iceland is most likely going into the EU. Negotiations are currently taking place. And even though its not in the EU it is in the EEA.
In terms of loans it was no different than any other nation except they got hit hardest because of a small population and an independent currency. It is in a better situation than Ireland, Greece or Portugal at the moment.

I honestly don’t get if you’re trying to be helpful or condescending. “Mostly because no one wants to live there” is a sentence that serves no purpose in your whole “argument”. Icelanders want to live there, and in fact they do. I assume you are British because its usually the British that have this attitude towards Iceland. I’d live in Reykjavik any day over London and I lived in both places.

“Iceland is one of the few countries that can give anyone the finger and be non-the worse for it”
This is also not true. It would effect many Icelanders because by far the majority of people use debit and credit cards, even today. And by far most of those are Visa or MasterCard. So yes, it would effect things quite a bit.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Iceland is not part of the EU

“Iceland is most likely going into the EU”

You’re kidding me right? A little while back, they were interested in joining the EU as a way to get into the Euro. But right now, that would clearly be an extremely silly idea, and they must want to join the Euro right now as much as they want a punch in the face. Looky at Greece, Portugal, Spain, Ireland… and, yes, whisper it… Belgium(!) Iceland are actually doing OK, thankyouverymuch. They’re better off out of it.

nehmo Sergheyev (profile) says:

Re: Iceland is not part of the EU

@Paul Brinker “no one wants to live there.”
If you use Icelandair
you get a layover in Iceland. You can extend this layover for a few days if you want. It’s a beautiful, relaxing, crime-free country with friendly people. I would be glad to live there. (I don’t because I don’t have a way to make a living there.)

HrilL says:

Great news!

Hopefully they do revoke their license and that other countries follow suit. What they did was wrong and what our government is trying to do is worse. Just wish more Americans were informed on these issues. Most city papers have a complete bias in favor of the government on this and its tricking the American public into believing the lies of our leaders. I’m still trying to convince my dad what was done was completely legal and legit. I think Ron Paul’s speech helped but he still think Assange should be murdered. While online news and blogs help the internet generation understand the truth we need better print media to help the people that don’t go online.

ignorant_s says:

Iceland- home of the literate

Keep in mind that it is some Iceland politicians that are threatening to revoke Visa and Mastercard’s operating licenses. Many Icelandic people have cried foul at the treatment of Wikileaks and Datacell by these companies….that is the many literate Icelandic constituents of these politicians.

So politicians can threaten all they want to ensure they do not alienate their constituency, but that doesn’t mean they have a legal leg to stand on or Iceland would ever actually do it.

So they asked for Visa and MC to “explain the legal grounds” for cutting off service. That’s not so scary. Visa and MC could simply point to any number of things in their Terms of Service agreements, including the clause that says something like…”I can stop doing business with you whenever I please…”

If there is some other violation of Icelandic law…who knows what it is but, according to Iceland’s Act No. 161/2002, on Financial Undertakings (Art. 9) an operating license can be revoked for any number of reasons, however, “before any revocation may be enacted… the undertaking must be allowed a suitable period to rectify the situation”….. Meaning…this ain’t gonna happen anytime soon.

jrbrewin says:

Re: Iceland- home of the literate

“Visa and MC could simply point to any number of things in their Terms of Service agreements, including the clause that says something like…”I can stop doing business with you whenever I please…””

A government also has similar grounds for granting a company rights to operate within it’s borders.

Anonymous Coward says:

The biggest thing that pisses me off about this entire situation is that not a single god damned news agency is out there actually reviewing all of these documents and trying to expose the government’s illegal activities that have been carried out. Nor would the actual judicial branches of the government fulfill their obligation of checks and balances by looking into the matter and trying to hold anyone accountable other than the private who leaked them – who should be hailed as a true american patriot – or Asaange for simply relaying that information.

Everyone’s conversations about the incident are in regard to Assange, who if were from a country like Iran or China exposing the misdeeds of those governments would be considered as a hero. Quite frankly American’s are just too damned ignorant to have any understanding of what something like this should represent.

An American soldier who was willing to sacrifice their own life to protect the liberties and freedoms of his fellow citizens saw an opportunity to pretty much do just that. His actions of exposing these wrongdoings has forfeited any normal life he could have hoped to live, but did so that we as a country can better ourselves. But what thanks do we show? Many call him a traitor, think he should be executed and a myriad of other asinine judgments get passed along because someone actually had the fortitude and courage to stand up for what was right.

American’s love to forget that a true patriot is someone who questions their government at every step, someone who will sacrifice their livelihood for the protection of freedom, liberty, and justice. A person who is willing to hold their government responsible and when they fail to carry out the wishes of the citizens it’s meant to serve will rise up and overthrow that regime that has become self-serving and corrupt.

America only exists today because people got tired of being oppressed and taken advantage of, they got tired of having the interests of the wealthy elite trump the necessities of a civilized life, and because they were willing to overthrow their government. Today anyone doing the same is called a terrorist, and anyone to do so couldn’t be more wrong. Institutions like the Department of
Homeland Security, legislation like the Patriot Act, our unprovoked invasion of another country, all of these things and more – many more that we aren’t even aware of – are the true blights against what this country has and should remain to stand for.

What you should be asking yourself is, how have these things actually contributed to enriching my freedom? You no longer have the right to privacy, you no longer have the right to due process, you no longer have the right to protest, to assemble, to report. But what you do have is the right to remain idle, to simply work and consume and go about your day-to-day life as a mindless drone. But now you can’t even have the right to use your own credit card as you see fit – what will be next?

ignorant_s (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“But now you can’t even have the right to use your own credit card as you see fit – what will be next?”

While I agree it is LAME that these companies can restrain one’s ability to exercise free speech though donations to a cause, unless you can point to a specific conspiracy between Visa, MC and the Government (meaning government action), this situation unfortunately falls under the constitutional “too bad, so sad” category.

While it is true that Freedom of speech is protected by the First Amendment, that only applies where the government is concerned. The Constitution does not apply to private corporations at all.

Alas, AC, all is not lost. People are at least questioning the government’s ability to limit and conceal information. Some press are focusing on the contents of the cables. We know more now about how are government functions internally than we did one month ago. That’s good.

Chris Rhodes (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

If you’re talking about the Citizen’s United ruling, you’re misreading it.

The court decided that the government couldn’t exercise prior restraint in stopping the release of a political film merely because the people who made it had incorporated. This was a major victory for free speech, and was not accurately represented by any of the diatribes I saw after the ruling.

ohrn (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The biggest thing that pisses me off about this entire situation is that not a single god damned news agency is out there actually reviewing all of these documents and trying to expose the government’s illegal activities that have been carried out.

Well, I don’t know what the news mega corps in the US are reporting on the actual content of the cables but on this side of the pond journalists have started to dip their toes into the water.

For example this documentary (in Swedish, complete with inane answers from politicians), regarding Swedish foreign policy. Officially we’re neutral but our current government (and all before it) is all to happy to be USA’s lapdog. This is no surprise of course, it’s the worst kept secret ever, but the diplomatic cables give an interesting insight in USA’s view on the matter and just how high we jump when master calls.

I can also recommend another program by the same team: WikiRebels – The Documentary (in English this time). Which, coming from mainstream media, I still found surprisingly insightful.

HrilL says:

Re: Re:

Completely agree. The big media companies are now days part of the same regime as the government and elite. They’re all owned by a hand full of elites that already control our government.

The United States was once a great place and had good intentions but today our government is just as bad as the tyrants of the past. They don’t represent the people at all. They lie to us every day and spy on us as well.

Every American should stop paying taxes as a protest. They can’t jail us all without our tax dollars. Nor do the have the room to do so. Of course this will never happen because Americans no longer have any self pride and respect for themselves and their fellow man. They’re following sheep lost following a wolf disguised as a sheep.

annon says:

Re: to #14

I couldnt agree more. We have strayed from our path.. We no longer know what it means to uphold freedoms, be a patriot, or have even the sligthest clue what is done in our country and around the world, in our name, with our tax dollars. If you disagree, your a terrorist. An anarchist. A radical. Remember history at all? Sounds an awful lot like the names the British called our founding fathers..

The republicans and democrats alike have proven that they are one in the same, ignoring the sins of their own party when they cry out against the other everytime it occupies the executive branch. The rhetoric is reaching a breakin point. The neocons call Obama a socialist, even though I as a progrssive think he is as big a hawk as Bush the Son ever was, more secrative, and more tied to special interests. The libs call the neocons backwards and out of touch, even as they continue many of the same policies of the prior administration, if not more. All the time the stupid average Joe out there just pays attention to who yells louder, rather then the fact that both groups represent the same oppressive group of power hungry Imperialists, that have simply tricked you into thinking abortion rights or gay marrage is a defining value of their party.

And yet the elephant is still dancing in the corner of the room.

Cancel your Visa, cancel your Mastercard, delete your paypal account and download your copy of LOIC. Its time to take a stand and be a patriot.. This country has a living, changing constitution so we could continue to become more democratic and free.. If the founding fathers knew that we have reached the point where any effort to make this country become a brighter beacon of freedom on the hill is met with cries of terrorism and treason, they would be ashamed. We should all be ashamed.

Take the power back.

Anonymous Coward says:

Considering that Iceland is broke, destitute, and pretty much screwed, they can do anything they want and it won’t matter much. It isn’t like anyone there has any money left.

When Iceland pays off all the debt is has run up, perhaps they can talk. Until then, perhaps Visa and Mastercard should just cut them off and end the problem.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

You mean like Americans, Irish, Italians, Portugal, Greece, Japan and others?

Want to hear a joke?

The American government is going to pay is debt LoL

I heard that if deflation hits the world Americans are screwed, because it augments the value of the debt and the government is trying to inflate the debt away which is pretty dumb.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

heard that if deflation hits the world Americans are screwed, because it augments the value of the debt

So long as the debt is in dollars the US government has no problem – they just print more dollars – that way the debt is either paid or inflated away.

PIGS have a problem right now because they can’t print euros unless Germany agrees. Eventually Germany will have to agree and even that problem will go away.

Printing more dollars will eventually have the important side-effect of forcing the Chinese to allow their currency to appreciate – which in the long run will put an end to the current global economic imbalance.

Thrainn Kristinsson says:

European Creditcard

The greatest threat to mastercard/visa is that governments in other countries now realize that these American credit card companies have the power to blacklist users and customers in Europe for whatever reason the find and there is no alternative payment solution – hence the discussion about the need for an European creditcard solution.

According to Andreas Fink, the CEO of Switzerland based Datacell, (a company that processes payments for Wikileaks) visa/mastercard used a Due Diligence Clause in their license agreement to stop Datacell from processing payments to Wikileaks. The Due Diligence Analysis has been conducted and Datacell is waiting for the results. It will be interesting to see what actions Datacell decides to take. An interview with Andreas Fink CEO of Datacell on Al Jazeera:

Timmy says:

MC and VISA's worldwide operations

How is it that the US Government has so much say over Mastercard’s and VISA’s worldwide operations? They operate in many different jurisdictions — it’s especially scary that one government has that kind of influence over a company’s interpretation of their “terms of service” in every country, and where no laws have been broken in any. No charges have been laid and certainly nothing has been proven in court.

The US claims to respect “Rule of Law”, but the truth is that they only respect the laws that don’t get in the way of whatever agenda they have in any given moment.

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