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. icon
    Gabriel Tane (profile), 5 Jul 2011 @ 10:50am


    "The most important is that wikileaks is not dependant on any of these sources as their exclusive way of getting money. The mail still works, fedex still runs, the banks still cash checks, etc. Yes, Visa, Mastercard, and Paypal are more convenient, but they do not control the money movement market."

    You're missing the point here. Wikileaks (and thier processor) is not saying "we can't get our money"... they're saying that these major companies violated local laws (sound familiar?) in agreeing to block commerce with a single company... which is what they claim the law is supposed to prevent. Are they wrong? That's for the judicial body to decide.

    Here in good ol' Merica, we say that you have the right to deny business to anyone as long as it's not for reasons of discrimination based on a protected group... but even here, the majority of the Big Steel Companies (do those even exist anymore?) can't all agree to stop selling steel to General Motors because they have a fundamental disagreement with that company's methods or philosophies. Doing so would mean that they are working together to adversely influence the market... which is what the Anti-trust laws were made to stop (more or less). And this is (again, more or less) what WL is claiming happened.

    Is it the same in the EU? I don't know that for sure... but I bet the ruling body will let us (and everyone else) know.

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