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
    DannyB (profile), 5 Jul 2011 @ 11:29am

    Re: Re: Re:

    > They do not want to be involved in processing for
    > sites that could be illegal

    That sounds like they do not want to serve sites whose clear purpose is to clearly violate an existing law.

    > they do carefully review sites before granting processing.

    So it sounds like WikiLeaks has passed this process already.

    So what made payment processors reconsider? Under the table requests from or favors to government officials?

    In any event, it sounds like WikiLeaks has a perfectly fine cause to sue.

    > They are private companies and they are not obliged to process for anyone.

    All the more reason they can and should be sued. They probably wouldn't have a problem if a clearly illegal site of the types you mentioned were to sue.

    > In the case of Wikileaks, we know that Manning is sitting in jail pending trial

    I'm not sure how that is closely related?

    Manning may have done something illegal, or maybe even something wrong. Either way, Wikileaks is not yet convicted of or even charged with a crime. Some people may not like what Wikileaks has done. So what. If there's more to it, then take official action.

    If it is the payment processors taking action on their own initiative, then why complain about Wikileaks suing?

    > As they are not the only methods to move money . . .
    > the anti-trust aspects are pretty hard to support.

    It's like saying all airlines, trains and buses have refused to provide service. There are other forms of transportation. All food suppliers have refused to do business with you, but there are other methods of obtaining food. All cell phone companies won't do business with you. Anti-trust is pretty hard to support.

    > As for wikileaks getting coverage

    You may be confused that getting coverage is Wikileaks purpose or focus. It may not be. Or it may be. Or getting on CNN may not be their focus. Who knows, maybe they'd be happy to not get coverage? In any event, I'm not sure what is the purpose of saying they are just crying for attention. There are more cost effective ways to get attention than this planned lawsuit.

    The idea that (mainstream) news coverage is a goal may be based on faulty understanding as was the state department saying that Wikileaks should "return" digital documents.

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