WikiLeaks Planning Legal Action Against PayPal, MasterCard & Visa

from the thought-this-would-go-away? dept

There hasn't been much talk lately over the fact that PayPal, MasterCard and Visa all cut off Wikileaks late last year, after the US government freaked out about the release of some State Department Cables. None of the firms has done a very good job explaining why this makes sense (or why they continue to allow other groups, such as the KKK to receive funding, while singling out Wikileaks). I'm sure those three firms, which took quite a public bashing when the news originally dropped, would prefer that there not be any more talk about it. However, Wikileaks and the payment firm they used, DataCell, are apparently planning to file a legal complaint this week against all three firms in Europe. A draft of the complaint, which was obtained by Andy Greenberg at Forbes (linked above and embedded below), claims that the three firms violated Articles 101 and 102 of the EU Treaty, effectively a form of antitrust law. While I tend to think many antitrust claims are merely attacks on successful companies, this seems like a case where they could make sense. Here you have basically the only three ways for most people to transfer money easily, all agreeing to block a single (small) client from receiving money, despite no legal ruling against the operation (hell, charges haven't even been filed). It certainly would make for an interesting case.

Filed Under: antitrust, collusion, europe, wikileaks
Companies: mastercard, paypal, visa, wikileaks


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jul 2011 @ 10:22am

    Re: Re:

    It really isn't a weak argument at all. The point is that Visa / Mastercard / Paypal are (a) not the only online processors, and (b) not the only way to move money from one place to another. Anti-trust would pretty much require proof that wikileaks was left with few options.

    The real issue for Wikileaks here is that they were in some cases using other companies' accounts, and provided less than honest answers to applications for banking and such. Wikileak's issue is that in an attempt to remain anonymous (and what appears to be an attempt to avoid taxation by not holding the money themselves), they have left themselves with fewer paying options. The German charity that was fronting for them is apparently in a whole pile of legal shit over this very issue.

    Wikileaks may not even have standing here, unless the Visa and Mastercard accounts were their accounts to start with. It is entirely possible that Wikileaks fails to meet the general criteria for obtaining processing, which would be applied equally to all potential account holders. They would have a very hard time to prove antitrust issues against these companies, or to show that they had been treated exceptionally.

    Wikileaks' desire to be hidden is their downfall, legally.

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