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 @ 9:53am

    It's pretty much a failed set of arguments for any number of reasons.

    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.

    Further, no company can be bound to provide payment processing services for an illegal or questionable site. While it is true that wikileaks has not been specifically charged and may, perhaps be legal where they are operating, it is also clear that Visa, Mastercard, and Paypal have significant legal risks in providing payment services as they have significant operations in the US and other countries, where wikeleaks legal status is somewhat in question. The risks for these companies far outweigh any financial benefit for providing payment processing.

    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 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.

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