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The Almighty Buck The Courts The Internet

WikiLeaks To Sue Visa/MasterCard 347

An anonymous reader writes "After six months of financial blockade by Visa and MasterCard, during which they claim to have lost over $15,000,000 in donations, WikiLeaks and Datacell are filing a complaint against the two financial giants, with plans to litigate should the block not be lifted. WikiLeaks stated, 'On June 9th the law firms Bender von Haller Dragested in Denmark and Reykjavik Law Firm in Iceland acting on behalf of DataCell and WikiLeaks told the companies that if the blockade is not removed they will be litigated in Denmark and a request for prosecution will be filed with the EU Commission.'"
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WikiLeaks To Sue Visa/MasterCard

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  • by hedwards ( 940851 ) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @09:40AM (#36641050)

    Visa and Mastercard are payment processors, it's not their place to decide where one can and can't buy things and it's not their place to make moral decisions on behalf of their clients. Given how there are only 4 major options and that American Express and Discover have much smaller networks and are frequently not accepted, I can't see how Visa and Mastercard can possibly be allowed to continue these shenanigans.

  • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 ) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @09:47AM (#36641072)

    Visa and Mastercard are payment processors, it's not their place to decide where one can and can't buy things and it's not their place to make moral decisions on behalf of their clients.

    And it's not your place to decide who a company can and can't do business with, based on your own moral and political views. If you don't like the policies of the company,or feel that they are preventing you from paying for something you would like to, you have the right and opportunity to go pay through someone else.

  • by zero.kalvin ( 1231372 ) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @09:51AM (#36641098)
    Well too bad, the law in the EU explicitly ask the companies to behave as the Grandparent poster explained.
  • by igreaterthanu ( 1942456 ) * on Saturday July 02, 2011 @09:53AM (#36641106)

    With an internet service provider, either the company should be liable for absolutely everything that passes through their network, and they should be free to allow and to block whatever they wish or they can claim "common carrier" status and waive liability, however they are required to allow everyone to use their network.

    In my opinion the same should apply to financial institutions. Visa and MasterCard should be allowed to block payments if they like, but if they do discriminate then they should be held liable when they do let illegal transactions get processed.

  • by hansraj ( 458504 ) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @09:54AM (#36641112)

    Sure, if I opened a bar and posted a sign saying "Black people not allowed", everyone who is enraged should just stfu and go to a different bar instead. Right?

    OP did not suggest in any way that what VISA and Mastercard did was wrong because they did it to wikileaks. It makes a lot of sense to me to expect (maybe even require) companies not to pick moral sides. Let the people choose whether they want to donate to wikileaks, and let the court decide whether wikileaks should be allowed to receive donations.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 02, 2011 @09:58AM (#36641124)

    Basically the GP is half-right... It isn't our place to decide who a company is allowed to deny services, however on the flip-side the company does not have a say in who they can do business with.

    E.g. Visa and MasterCard are perfectly free to say no to the customers EU law requires them to serve, and EU is perfectly free to keep those companies out of the EU market.

  • by paziek ( 1329929 ) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @09:59AM (#36641128)

    Well, AFAIK Wikileaks didn't break any law in EU. Its Visa and MasterCard that could possibly do that - at least in EU that is. If they want to operate in EU, they need to comply. They don't want to? Well, I'm sure some else will take over.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 02, 2011 @10:03AM (#36641158)

    It will be interesting to see how an international diplomatic incident will play out in EU courts. Wonder if the EU is ready to pay for it's own defense yet.

    All these issues... since the money all runs through the US, I wonder if possibly the US anti-terrorism laws apply...

    Gee, maybe the case is not as simple as it seems...

  • by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @10:19AM (#36641230)

    these are not 'just companies'. they ARE the financial infrastructure, in very many ways.

    the water company can't decide not to serve you. they can't ban you. this is essentially the same. once things are at this scale (bastardcard included) they HAVE to be impartial and offer services to all customers.

    if they want to 'look inside' of the souls that are their customers, they'll have to start rejecting a lot more customers, then.

    these guys are too large to be allowed to decide who can and who cannot exchange money in the world. yes, its almost to that level where a few control the world's flow of money. we all know it, so stop acting like its johnny's lemonaide stand on second street. this is the mainstream finance industry saying NO! and they simply should not have the right to say no to anyone.

    or, maybe its time they all get broken up.

    its also time we don't let things ever get to the point where things are 'too big to fail' or too big to be stopped or fought with. companies should NOT be allowed to just grow and grow. we tried that. it didn't work out. lets admit it and create a better model. (yeah, right, like those in control would entertain a revolution. in fact, THIS is what they are most afraid of. duh!)

  • by icebraining ( 1313345 ) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @10:28AM (#36641282) Homepage

    Please post the court decision that determined the illegality of Wikileaks actions or STFU. Only a court can decide if what they did was illegal, not Mastercard or Visa.

  • by iamhassi ( 659463 ) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @10:49AM (#36641394) Journal
    "And it's not your place to decide who a company can and can't do business with, based on your own moral and political views."

    Credit card companies have a monopoly, it's like the utility company shutting off your electricity and water because they don't agree with your political stance or moral views.

    I'm glad they're suing, only reason Mastercard/Visa should stop accepting is if customers are complaining about fraud. If Mastercard/Visa stopped accepting Wikileaks what's next?
  • by FunkSoulBrother ( 140893 ) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @10:51AM (#36641408)

    Ah yes, just like Cable and DSL, Democrat and Republican. Truly the free market is wondrous with it's choices.

  • by TheSpoom ( 715771 ) <> on Saturday July 02, 2011 @11:21AM (#36641590) Homepage Journal

    Realistically one of two things will happen. One: The trial will be over quickly as the CC companies find a way to short circuit the case, with an early dismissal or something similar. Chances: 60%. Two: The trial will take forever because the CC companies will drag it out, and Wikileaks will run out of money (since they control their primary source of donations) and settle. Chances: 39.9%.

  • by cavreader ( 1903280 ) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @02:04PM (#36642506)
    I'm tired of hearing people bleat on and on about "international law". A law is only applicable if it can be enforced otherwise it's just a bunch of bureaucratic posturing. Also to be "international law" countries would have to surrender their sovereignty and that will not happen anytime soon in the US or any other country with a measure of common sense. Sort of like the political witch hunt posse know as the ICC. The US was roundly criticized for not siging up for this political motivated court. China, Russia, India, or Japan also did not sign up for this but you never hear any complaints about them.
  • by crunchygranola ( 1954152 ) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @02:17PM (#36642576)

    ...Mastercard refusing to process payments for you is not like having the water turned off. It is more like FedEx or UPS decides to blacklist you, and inform you that they will no longer accept any package to be sent from your address.

    Yes, you might have just lost one of your convenient options for delivering your products, but nothing stops you from using independent freight companies or using an alternative like DHL.

    If the water company shuts you off nothing stops you from using independent freight companies from hauling water in by truck. You just lost one your convenient options for getting water.

    At some point inconvenience becomes more than just "inconvenient".

    We are easily there with the Visa/Mastercard duopoly.

  • by f16c ( 13581 ) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @02:30PM (#36642668)

    Why does it have to be Communism? History tells us that communism as a term devolved in the practical world as yet another name for totalitarianism. That war ended in 1945. I'm not sure we won. Capitalism was never supposed to be totally unregulated. That's why it keeps getting a bad name. There are supposed to be social and societal limits along with regulations and laws limiting corporate behavior. Companies are like people (since they are made up of them in any case): Laws and regulations are for the idiots among us that can't think for themselves. Companies without limits become monstrous in the extreme. Capitalism without restraint is utter insanity. Communism as a concept never happened and was a sort of outsized socialism that never really worked in practice. Socialism seems to work fine in large parts of Europe with a large side dish of capitalism and a dash of common sense. Capitalism seems to coexist pretty well with a lot of other social concepts if given a chance.

    Our insistence that anything other than pure capitalism as being the ultimate answer to everything makes us look stupid to the rest of the world and we really need to get over that.

  • by vux984 ( 928602 ) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @04:11PM (#36643214)

    The moment Wikileaks published a single classified document, they did in fact break US laws.

    Wikileaks is not in the US. They are not subject to US laws. And publishing a document a foreign government deems classified has never been illegal anywhere, ever.

    A farmer in Afghanistan who slaughters a goat and sells the meat is not in contravention with New York state law requiring a meat vendor to have a state issued butchers license.

    A man doing 150km/h on the German Autobahn is not violating Florida state ordinances on speeding.

    Foxxconn paying employees less than $7.25 an hour in China does not violate the US Federal minimum wage law.

    Your claim that wikileaks broke US law is absurd on its face.

  • by blueg3 ( 192743 ) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @06:35PM (#36643914)

    It's not informative, it's speculative. It might be insightful, but there's no guarantee that insight is right.

    It seems convenient, maybe even likely, that someone in the government told Visa and Mastercard to cut off Wikileaks. But there's no evidence of that.

    You know, evidence. The sort of thing that people want against Assange. One of those legal things we like to have in the States, from time to time.

Never buy from a rich salesman. -- Goldenstern