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Freedom Of Expression Is Priceless... For Everything Else, There's Mastercard

from the plug-pulled dept

The title of this post is from Rinze, who perfectly sums up the ridiculousness of MasterCard blocking any payment systems that are working with Wikileaks from allowing people to use its card. MasterCard's excuse is even more ridiculous than Paypal, Amazon and others. Rather than drudging up some sort of "terms of service violation," MasterCard is now just making stuff up:
MasterCard said it was cutting off payments because WikiLeaks is engaging in illegal activity. "MasterCard rules prohibit customers from directly or indirectly engaging in or facilitating any action that is illegal," spokesman Chris Monteiro said.
That's nice, but last we checked, for something to be found guilty of illegal activity, first they have to be charged and tried, and only after a court decides it's illegal, is it actually considered illegal. To date, Wikileaks hasn't been even charged with anything, let alone found guilty. Apparently MasterCard isn't a big believer in due process either. It's actually very unlikely that Wikileaks actually has done anything illegal. It is against the law to leak such documents but publishing those documents is still protected activity. Except to MasterCard.

Filed Under: free speech, mastercard, wikileaks
Companies: mastercard, wikileaks

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  1. icon
    ignorant_s (profile), 7 Dec 2010 @ 9:30am

    Re: Re: Private business

    Maybe not. Libel is defaming or falsely attacking a person or organization (depending on the state) in a permanent medium (like writing) for mass viewership. The truth, opinions or criticism based on how a person who is a voluntary public figure, or privilege (like court testimony or legislative speeches) are all defenses to libel.

    If Assange is charged and convicted of a crime, even subsequent to the statement, well then the truth could be MCs defense. Also, it is hard to argue that Assange/Wikileaks would not be considered a person/organization that has voluntarily put themselves out to the public. Could such a statement as "engaging in illegal activity" be considered an opinion? A legal conclusion? A fair criticism by a non-attorney?

    The fact that MC failed to name the crime does not matter. It could still not be a libelous statement. Non-lawyers who speak critically about organizations that put themselves voluntarily out there, need not have accurately named the crime before any charging documents have been filed to have a defense against libel for a statement that after the fact turns out to be true. I am sure MC has many lawyers reviewing any public statements regarding this issue.

    Many countries, not just the US are talking of charging Assange with a crime, not to mention, he is awaiting extradition to Sweden for a (likely bogus) crime. MC is considering Assange and Wikileaks as one in the same.

    I don't believe this is a due process issue, as MC as a private business has the right to engage in business activity with whomever or whichever entity they please.

    Free speech and freedom of the press have their limitations when it comes to the "protection of vital national security interests". I suppose the US may charge Mr. Assange under the Espionage Act which makes it a crime for an "unauthorized person" to possess or transmit "information relating to the national defense which information the possessor has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation."

    I hate to say it but Assange has an uphill battle. He's screwed. He has pissed off one to many foreign governments for them to let this one go. Ugh.

    At least the debate will continue, because it is an important one.

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