Want To Know Why Visa & Mastercard Cut Off Wikileaks? Because Its Latest Leak Was About Them...

from the everywhere-you-want-to-be dept

Visa's slogan used to be "Everywhere you want to be," but apparently one place it did not want to be was on Wikileaks. We've already covered how both Visa and MasterCard cut off Wikileaks quite quickly, with MasterCard even going so far as to claim that it did so because of illegal activity by Wikileaks -- despite no charges or convictions for any actual illegal activity.

Just a day later, it seems, we may have some new insight into why this is. Chris Rhodes was the first of a bunch of you to send over the news that the latest cable leak shows that US diplomats worked hard on Visa and MasterCard's behalf in Russia, where the Russian government was working on a new national payment card system, that would likely deprive Visa and MasterCard of transaction fees in Russia. Convenient timing.

Filed Under: russia, wikileaks
Companies: mastercard, visa, wikileaks

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  1. icon
    Pierre Wolff (profile), 8 Dec 2010 @ 4:36pm

    I don't get their position

    So I've been giving some thought to Mastercard, VISA and Paypal's position on why they cut off Wikileaks and something else feels off.

    Wikileaks was using these payment instruments to collect donations from individuals. As a non-profit organization, that's the primary reason for using these payment instruments. Wikileaks was not selling a membership, a product, or a service. Hence, their use of, and reason for using, these payment instruments was only to collect donations, which last I checked is not an illegal activity. Wikileaks made no false promises and did not defraud anyone.

    Now, if the position of the payment instrument companies is that Wikileaks' illegal behavior (which has yet to be asserted as such, and is not being done as means of profiting from), resulted in having their accounts closed or frozen, then what does that really mean? Are the payment instrument companies playing the role of general law enforcement? For example, if Walmart were to be accused of violating labor laws by the Department of Labor, can (or would) the payment instrument companies freeze Walmart's accounts? If BP were charged w/illegally dumping oil into the Gulf of Mexico, would they stop close of freeze BP's accounts and stop allowing them fm accepting VISA or Mastercard at the pump? In other words, if a company is violating the law in an unrelated part of their business to the one for which they're accepting the payment instruments, does that still constitute a violation of their agreement with these payment instrument companies?

    Seems pretty far reaching to me, and I suspect that the illegality issue would only apply to the merchant accepting payments w/these instruments in exchange for fraudulent or illegal products or services. If I were Wikileaks' attorneys, I'd be getting prepared for a round of civil lawsuits against these payment instrument providers.

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