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Bank of America Cuts Off Wikileaks Transactions 467

Posted by timothy
from the hello-complaints-department dept.
Chaonici writes "The first actual bank to do so, Bank of America has decided that it will follow in the footsteps of PayPal, MasterCard, and Visa, and halt all its transactions that it believes are intended for WikiLeaks, including donations in support of the organization. 'This decision,' says the bank, 'is based upon our reasonable belief that WikiLeaks may be engaged in activities that are, among other things, inconsistent with our internal policies for processing payments.' Coincidentally, in a 2009 interview with Forbes magazine, Julian Assange stated that he was in possession of the hard drive of a Bank of America executive, and that he planned to release information about a major bank early next year."
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Bank of America Cuts Off Wikileaks Transactions

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  • by HungryHobo (1314109) on Saturday December 18, 2010 @10:24AM (#34599198)

    Ok, so it's time for a run on the bank.
    Get in before the rush!

    • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Saturday December 18, 2010 @10:27AM (#34599224)

      the war has begun (?)

    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      I wouldn't worry too much however if Assange does have a B of A harddrive means he is in position of stolen goods which is a crime.

      • Or perhaps it was imaged and sent back to it's owners.
        Or perhaps someone working for B of A sent a drive to wikileaks to leak information.

        I see no reason to hang on to the drive either way.

        • by DarkOx (621550)

          Well unless that person from Bank of America had permission to give away the drive then they stole it and Assange revived stolen property. When you knowingly or in many places negligently (ie you should have suspected enough to check things out) receive stolen property its a crime.

          Assange has effectively confessed to a crime here if Bank of America can show a drive missing from the inventory or some IT guy improperly disposing of one.

      • Or perhaps he (or someone) bought a used computer that still had data on it. Much more likely, and legal too...
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 18, 2010 @10:51AM (#34599366)

      When you close your account, be sure to note that it is because you have reasonable belief that Bank of America may be engaged in activities that are, among other things, inconsistent with your internal policies for a bank-customer relationship.

    • by ethanms (319039)

      Hah... anyone who was waiting for THIS news to leave BoA has had their head in the sand...

  • Free speech? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 18, 2010 @10:28AM (#34599234)

    If the government can declare something "illegal" and pressure private companies to not do business with a particular entity... does it really matter if they can "make no law" abridging freedom of speech? Isn't the first amendment completely worthless?

    • Re:Free speech? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by zach_the_lizard (1317619) on Saturday December 18, 2010 @11:13AM (#34599534)
      It's like the US drinking age. Congress has no power to set the drinking age, but they do have the power to deny money to states that lower it below 21. In the end, the result is the same.
      • Re:Free speech? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by tomhudson (43916) <barbara.hudson@ ... a - h u dson.com> on Saturday December 18, 2010 @11:28AM (#34599618) Journal
        Makes me wonder what Congress has been snorting all these years ...

        All bad laws do is lower respect for all laws. Here's the solution:

        1. For every new law you pass, you have to remove two old ones
        2. No consolidating, no riders, etc.
        3. If the word count of the new law is higher than the combined word counts of the two old laws that are removed, additional laws have to also be removed until the word count achieves parity

        It would cut down on excess verbiage, legalese, and get some outdated laws off the books.

        • It's not just cruft from yesteryear that lowers respect for law; there are plenty of modern laws that engender that response. Drug laws, for example, are widely disobeyed (see the massive prison population, the largest on Earth, IIRC), as are the drinking age, speed limits, laws against jaywalking, etc. With our luck under your system, Congress would pass these laws and scrap things like Posse Comitatus.
      • Re:Free speech? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Pushpabon (1351749) on Saturday December 18, 2010 @12:12PM (#34599970)
        I don't get it. If congress can't set a federal drinking age how can they outlaw drugs? If the feds needed a constitutional amendment to prohibit alcohol how come one wasn't needed for the war on drugs?
        • Re:Free speech? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by stinerman (812158) <`nathan.stine' `at' `gmail.com'> on Saturday December 18, 2010 @01:01PM (#34600330) Homepage

          You silly guy. The Supreme Court figured out that all these years we really didn't need an amendment to prohibit alcohol sales. Congress had the right to do that under the commerce clause all along! In fact, Congress has the right to do just about anything they want under the commerce clause.

          In fact, if it wasn't for the 18th (and later, 21st Amendments) Congress would have probably set the drinking age at 21 based on commerce clause powers a long time ago. Unfortunately for them the 21st spells out that this right is reserved to the states -- but only for alcohol. A congressional ban on tobacco would be fully in line with current jurisprudence.

        • by moeinvt (851793)

          offtopic

          "I don't get it. If congress can't set a federal drinking age how can they outlaw drugs?"

          I'd argue that federal drug laws are blatantly un-Constitutional, but if you ask the feds what gives them the power to do something blatantly un-Constitutional, the answer will always be one of:

          > Interstate Commerce
          > The General Welfare
          > National Security

          The Supreme Court struck down the California medical marijuana law in the case of "Raich v. Gonzales" on the ridiculous grounds of "Interstate Commerce

          • You know moe, after your little insulting reply to my divest Israel comment, I was thinking of lighting you up (or down as the case may be) with my mod points.

            But I actually agree with most of your other comments. In a quick reading, I can't decide whether or not you are liberal or libertarian, but on the off-chance you are liberal or left-leaning, I'd like to point out that the only dissenters in Raich v. Gonzales were from conservative members of the court (specifically, Thomas & Rehnquist, with the

    • An abbreviated timeline:

      August/2010 A warrant for Assange is issued by the Swedish Prosecution Authority.

      August/2010 The law firm of Borgstrom and Bodstrom quickly volunteer to represent the two accusers, Anna Ardin and Sofia Wilen.

      Thomas Bodstrom, former Justice Minister, has an interesting background: he came under investigation four times by Sweden's constitutional committee while Justice Minister after arresting members of the Pirate Bay file-sharing operation. He was also instrumental in pushi

  • by Compaqt (1758360) on Saturday December 18, 2010 @10:30AM (#34599254) Homepage

    accepted any manner of shady transactions regarding

    -Bernie Madoff
    -mortgage derivatives
    -selling mortgage securities without proper paperwork

    The problem, anymore, is that banks and ISPs aren't content to just be carriers. They have to judge the content of your transactions, too.

  • by rastoboy29 (807168) on Saturday December 18, 2010 @10:30AM (#34599256) Homepage
    It is clear then that Bank of America is an instrument of US foreign policy.
  • Let's make wagers on how long it takes until Anonymous DDOS's them because at this point it's not a matter if it will happen but when.
  • by EnsilZah (575600) <EnsilZah@GmailGI ... minus herbivore> on Saturday December 18, 2010 @10:34AM (#34599282)

    Though this isn't the best fit, I came across a quote by Thoreau in a short story called "Repent Harlequin!" Said the Ticktockman that seems like a good fit for the whole thing in general so I thought I'd share.

    The mass of men serve the state thus, not as men mainly,
    but as machines, with their bodies. They are the standing army,
    and the militia, jailers, constables, posse comitatus, etc.
    In most cases there is no free exercise whatever of the
    judgement or of the moral sense; but they put themselves
    on a level with wood and earth and stones; and wooden men
    can perhaps be manufactured that will serve the purpose as well.
    Such command no more respect than men of straw or a lump of dirt.
    They have the same sort of worth only as horses and dogs.
    Yet such as these even are commonly esteemed good citizens.
    Others--as most legislators, politicians, lawyers, ministers,
    and office-holders--serve the state chiefly with their heads;
    and, as they rarely make any moral distinctions, they are as
    likely to serve the devil, without _intending_ it, as God.
    A very few--as heroes, patriots, martyrs, reformers in the
    great sense, and _men_--serve the state with their consciences
    also, and so necessarily resist it for the most part; and
    they are commonly treated as enemies by it.

  • Ireland (Score:5, Funny)

    by ickleberry (864871) <web@pineapple.vg> on Saturday December 18, 2010 @10:35AM (#34599284) Homepage
    Maybe Bank of Ireland would be willing to help out Wikileaks. They are so broke they are not really in a position to care about where the money is going to
  • by netsavior (627338) on Saturday December 18, 2010 @10:42AM (#34599312)
    If Federal regulators even SUSPECT you have been allowing terrorists to receive payment, you are subject to an audit with a cost of about 50 million dollars to support (you have to pay all of your people to deal with the audit instead of their normal job responsibilities). The fines and reprecussions are on top of that initial cost, and can include being barred from the FDIC, which basically shuts down a bank forever.

    My guess is that bank of america merely has the inside scoup and wikileaks is about to be declared official terrorists.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You could just call it extortion - someone from any other country would.

    • by rtb61 (674572) on Saturday December 18, 2010 @10:59AM (#34599410) Homepage

      Even wonder that the show might be on the other foot, that the Bank of America knowingly dealt with criminals of all sorts including terrorists and that is what they really fear.

      • by tomhudson (43916)

        Even wonder that the show might be on the other foot, that the Bank of America knowingly dealt with criminals of all sorts including terrorists and that is what they really fear.

        You mean like how the KKK can still use their BofA VISA to support the boys in the hoods [dailykos.com].

    • by scarboni888 (1122993) on Saturday December 18, 2010 @11:11AM (#34599516)

      Well in that case the term 'terrorist' really gets fuzzy doesn't it?

      A terrorist uses VIOLENCE to further a political agenda.

      I'm sure you'd be more than happy to argue that wikileaks has a political agenda but where, pray tell, is the violence?

      Because if this were to happen it would set precedence for pretty much any journalistic entity that doesn't tow the party line as 'terrorist'.

      I'd be very careful about that one.

    • by aliquis (678370) <dospam@gmail.com> on Saturday December 18, 2010 @11:32AM (#34599652) Homepage

      If Federal regulators even SUSPECT you have been allowing terrorists to receive payment

      Sorry to spoil it for you but that would include every single American tax payer.

      I know I will eventually get moderated down to the middle of the world for saying so. But I put no label on the tax payers as such or claim that the American government would be anything special in this regard. Just stating the facts. Or isn't it terrorism just because the government are in charge?

      What else than terrorism can you call the first helicopter attack video Wikileaks leaked?

      Though I have no idea who the photographers where, or if the people in the helicopter know them, or why they shoot in the first place.

      Oxford American dictionaries:
      "terrorism |?ter??riz?m| noun the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims."

  • Policies (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Andy Smith (55346) on Saturday December 18, 2010 @10:45AM (#34599330) Homepage

    "our reasonable belief that WikiLeaks may be engaged in activities ... inconsistent with our internal policies for processing payments"

    Shut up. You're a bank. Just move people's money around for them and don't try to have an opinion.

  • by evanism (600676) on Saturday December 18, 2010 @10:46AM (#34599342) Journal
    They deal with scum like Bernie maddoff and involved with some of the shadiest operations imaginable and they turn off the hose to THIS? banksters are the cancers of our society. When the revolution comes, there won't be enough brick layers to keep up with the wall building demand.
  • by HangingChad (677530) on Saturday December 18, 2010 @11:13AM (#34599536) Homepage

    But it's really not funny that there doesn't seem to be an inch of daylight between government and big business.

    And, no, it hasn't always been that way. There have been times historically the situation was similar, but it hasn't always been that way.

    • by microbox (704317) on Saturday December 18, 2010 @12:42PM (#34600190)
      The government had power to set meaningful regulations when the public supported the general principle. For example, meat handling regulations were brought in just over a hundred years ago, which are responsible for the nice safe shrink-wrapped meat we have today. (The meat industry is in a war on those regulations, and the quality of meat has been going down over the past 10 years.)

      This was considered such a good thing, that the zeitgeist held that the best products were inspected by experts and held up to official standards. Businessmen were, by their nature, crooks, and would try to pull the wool over the eyes of their consumers. So regulations were like Hobbs Leviathan for business, just as the police are the Leviathan for citizens.

      Switch to the modern world, and business interests are heavily invested in sophisticated spin campaigns, to ensure an endless party -- sometimes at our expense. Thanks to neo-liberalism and the Fox effect, anything remotely centrist is painted as some type of extremism. The AGW denial campaign uses exactly the same tactic: take an extreme position, and then non-experts will think that the truth lies in-between. The result is a shift in the zeitgeist, as the door starts to swing more and more in your direction.

      Some might think that this type of extremism will be seen through. Think again. Nazi Germany, USSR, North Korea, Post-revolutionary France, they all show just how dark society can become under the grip of extremism. Germany is and was a fine country, and sunk very quickly thanks to media spin that blew on the embers of chauvinism and authoritarianism. And that is exactly what Fox and the tea-party stands for.
  • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Saturday December 18, 2010 @11:37AM (#34599712)

    you folks had it good for a long time.

    btw, you're generally a religious group, right? (conservatives generally are.)

    go back to your bible and re-read the david and goliath story.

    sweet dreams banksters....

  • by Arancaytar (966377) <arancaytar.ilyaran@gmail.com> on Saturday December 18, 2010 @11:53AM (#34599820) Homepage

    "We will no longer process payments to them because they are not consistent with our policy for who we process payments to."

    This tautology neatly covers the fact that Wikileaks has been charged with precisely zero crimes over Cablegate. These upstanding organizations all like to pretend that they are following the law, but they are actually taking the law into their own hands. I hope they get the shit sued out of them.

    • by Corbets (169101)

      "We will no longer process payments to them because they are not consistent with our policy for who we process payments to."

      This tautology neatly covers the fact that Wikileaks has been charged with precisely zero crimes over Cablegate.

      Yet they have specifically threatened BoA with the leakage of sensitive information belonging to BoA. If somebody told you they were going to air your dirty laundry, would you still do business with them?

      • by khallow (566160)

        If somebody told you they were going to air your dirty laundry, would you still do business with them?

        If the "airing" caused or was a result of abuse of contract, then I would stop doing business with the party in question. That doesn't happen to be the case with Wikileaks.

  • by Graham J - XVI (1076671) on Saturday December 18, 2010 @12:07PM (#34599936) Homepage Journal

    https://www1.bankofamerica.com/foundation/index.cfm?template=contact_us_here [bankofamerica.com]

    Let them know what you think of their decision and that you'll be closing all your accounts with them.

  • by chipwich (131556) on Saturday December 18, 2010 @12:41PM (#34600180)
    We assume that banks transact their client's funds with an implicit neutrality, or else anyone in possession of a check couldn't trust that it was a valid monetary substitute. BoA isn't indicating "illegal" behavior, only that the recipient is acting in a manner inconsistent with BoA policies.

    Between the Government stampede to eliminate the 1st amendment, and the use of corporations to act where the rule-of-law isn't convenient, the US Government and Corporate overlords are playing with fire.

    All democracy-loving non-US entities should be watching carefully as this plays out.
  • Side note (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SpaghettiPattern (609814) on Saturday December 18, 2010 @01:21PM (#34600510)
    On a side note, I came to realize that there's no true alternative to US based credit card companies.

    I'll be ditching my Mastercard soon. However, there are no real alternatives. Here in Europe there's the German EC debit card but it is only accepted in Germany, Switzerland and neighbouring regions.

    This situation is actually more concerning than Oracle becoming arseholes over Java. Most likely, the US government can influence payments globally.

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