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
    Chris-Mouse (profile), 5 Jul 2011 @ 10:54am

    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.
    Visa and Mastercard do control some 95% of the online payments market, and this is the area the plaintiff requires access too in order to remain competitive in business.
    It is also clear that the Wikileaks people have been slippery with the truth, using third party companies, less than honest addresses, and the like to get their processing done. Third parties accepting Visa transactions requires that the company have a sort of IPSP account (for allowing third party transactions), and each third party must be directly approved by Visa. Without it, the processing can be stopped without warning.
    This third party procedure is not 'slippery with the truth' It's a standard business practice, as you even admit to when mentioning the procedures required for it. What's more, the company plainly stated up front that they were going to be processing payments for WikiLeaks.
    ...wikeleaks legal status is somewhat in question.
    There is no question at all about the legal status of Wikileaks. One individual has been in custody for almost a year over the major leak that has embarrassed the US government. In spite of the long delay, that individual has not yet been charged with anything. wikileaks has not yet been charged, let alone convicted, of any offense whatsoever. Unless you are willing to throw out the basis for the entire legal system in the western world, Wikileaks has to be considered as innocent until guilt is proven in a court.
    This story reads more like Wikeleaks being more than slightly desperate for attention, as fewer and fewer people (and the media) are paying attention to their spew anymore.
    It sounds to me like WikiLeaks is fighting back against a government determined to kill it by any possible means.
    If WikiLeaks does win this case, then Visa and Mastercard are going to be caught between a rock and a hard place. If they don't restore service to WikiLeaks, they'll get hammered by the EU legal system, but if they do restore service, they'll get hammered by the US political system. Either way, the companies can't win unless they can show in court that there's a specific, legal, reason why they terminated the service.

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