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 @ 10:37am

    Re: Re:

    Danny, let me give you an example.

    Visa and Mastercard process for porn sites. However, they do so with many restrictions, and they do carefully review sites before granting processing. They do not want to be involved in processing for sites that could be illegal (child porn, bestiality, etc), which could create liablity for Visa.

    Paypal, American Express, and other do not allow porn sites for processing, which is their right. They limit their exposure to risks, and apply the rules equally to all sites of this nature.

    In the case of Wikileaks, we know that Manning is sitting in jail pending trial for leaking documents. V/MC can look at that sort of thing, see risk, and decide not to take it. They can pretty much write the rules to say "we will not generally process for any site that distributes secret government documents", and be done with it. They are private companies and they are not obliged to process for anyone.

    As they are not the only methods to move money (and not the only methods to move money online), the anti-trust aspects are pretty hard to support.

    The only successful anti-trust actions that have been brought against V/MC in the last 10 years revolve around fees and restrictions on issuing banks.

    As for wikileaks getting coverage, I suggest this link:

    http://www.cnn.com/search/?query=wikileaks&primaryType=mixed&sortBy=date&intl=t rue

    It's pretty much a clear that there is only a single story one the first page (last couple of weeks) that relates to anything specific about wikileaks "leaks", and the rest is discussions of hactivists and cyber warfare. Wikileaks is losing it's grip on the media. I mean, when was the last time you saw Julian on the news spewing something new? It's been a while.

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