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Electronic Frontier Foundation Encryption Privacy Security The Almighty Buck The Media Your Rights Online

EFF Spinoff Pools Donor Dollars To Prevent WikiLeaks-Style Payment Blockades 95

nonprofiteer writes "Two years ago, Visa, MasterCard, PayPal, Western Union and Bank of America cut off all funding to WikiLeaks. A group of free information advocates wants to prevent a similar financial blockade on information from happening again. Daniel Ellsberg, John Perry Barlow, and EFF staffers are founding the Freedom of the Press Foundation, an org that will raise money and channel it to edgy media groups that might suffer from a WikiLeaks-style embargo. When donors give to the Foundation, they can choose to have their funding passed on to any media group under the Foundation's umbrella (currently WikiLeaks, Muckrock, The National Security Archives and UpTake). That strategy aims to make it harder to cut funding to any of those organizations, or any added in the future. And because the site is encrypted, donors who worry about being identified as giving to any particularly controversial group can do so without being identified. It's like Tor for charitable giving."
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EFF Spinoff Pools Donor Dollars To Prevent WikiLeaks-Style Payment Blockades

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 17, 2012 @09:14AM (#42313177)

    DHS comes after them for setting up a very al-qaeda style charity.

  • by pjt33 ( 739471 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @09:14AM (#42313179)

    What's to stop Visa and Mastercard from refusing to process payments to this new foundation?

  • by guises ( 2423402 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @09:15AM (#42313183)
    Obviously, the immediate worry is that the Freedom of the Press Foundation will just get itself on the banned list and they don't seem to mention this in the article. Since this is a US organization it would also be subject to National Security Letters, they also don't address this...

    My enthusiasm is tempered a bit, but I think this is really encouraging.
  • by Beyond_GoodandEvil ( 769135 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @09:24AM (#42313223) Homepage
    Even better, how long until some finds a way to use this new system to launder money, and then the feds will come down very hard on these folks.
  • by maroberts ( 15852 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @09:26AM (#42313231) Homepage Journal

    IIRC the payment processors have performed this economic blockade without due process or a legal ruling, so to clobber this organisation would take a court hearing, which may be what EFF is angling for.

  • by KiloByte ( 825081 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @09:31AM (#42313259)

    Since its reputation is at stake, I guess the EFF will vet the organizations under its umbrella closely. So feds will come down hard, but won't at least be able to claim laundering.

  • by cdrudge ( 68377 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @09:35AM (#42313281) Homepage

    There's nothing that prevents the credit card processors from refusing to process the payments. However unlike most of the organizations that have had trouble with processors in the past, the EFF is a legitimate charity with 501(c)(3) status with the IRS. It's hard to argue that an organization is engaging in illegal, questionable, or otherwise prohibited transactions on one hand, but have the government endorse it on the other.

  • by Nerdfest ( 867930 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @09:56AM (#42313413)

    Having it as something exclusive to funding "edgy" information sites is one thing, but if the money is pooled under the EFF it makes it look much more draconian if anything is done to it. It would be like shutting down the ACLU because you don't like them funding one particular group.

  • by jythie ( 914043 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @09:56AM (#42313415)
    Which, given how critical access to their services is, is a pretty scary situation. We have a small number of private entities who get to decide who, essentially, has access to 'money' and who does not. They need no court order, and are often willing to do what the DoJ asks as long as the volumes are small....they will not cut off big spenders, but poor organizations that could never afford to take them or the government to court are easy targets..
  • by DRJlaw ( 946416 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @10:02AM (#42313447)

    IIRC the payment processors have performed this economic blockade without due process or a legal ruling, so to clobber this organisation would take a court hearing, which may be what EFF is angling for.

    Why would the payment processors have to provide due process or obtain a legal ruling? They're private businesses, not government agencies. The mere fact that they're large businesses does not mean that they are forbidden from behaving like any small business or individual -- if they do not want to do business with someone, they cannot be forced to. You should research the term "concerted refusal to deal," and then consider that there must be an actual prospective agreement, not merely independent action, before someone can successfully attack a refusal to trade on antitrust grounds. Hence decisions like the recent EC decision [] declining to go after the payment processors under competition laws.

    The converse would be hilarious. Anyone boycotting a business or organization would have to provide due process and obtain a legal ruling that would permit them to refuse to trade with, say, Walmart. Hilarity ensues.

  • by pla ( 258480 ) on Monday December 17, 2012 @01:06PM (#42315045) Journal
    Not good enough. Where do you draw the line between large and small?

    In 2010, Visa processed 3.2 trillion dollars per year. The US Federal gross receipts for 2010 came out to a mere 2.2 trillion dollars (receipts, not GDP which came to 14.5 trillion for that year).

    You want a line? When you single-handledly take in more money than the federal government, you cannot just say no. And more practically, I'd set the line quite a bit lower than that, somewhere around 3% of GDP, or roughly half a trillion dollars - Which would coincidentally "catch" both Mastercard (at 2 trillion) and Amex (at 700 billion).

    You have to actually think through these issues and justify the conclusion of why you apply the principle only to some and not to all

    The entire banking crisis (and don't give me that shit about the credit card companies not counting as banks - It may have a legal distinction, but We The People don't care whether you call it a striped horse or a zebra) came about because large banks/companies/dontcarewhatyoucallthem, with financial activity best described in percent of GDP rather than in actual dollars, had the freedom to screw around as though they functioned as small businesses. When MomCo bets the till on the ponies, MomCo goes under. When JP Morgan Chase effectively does the same, the whole goddamned stock market takes a dive and grandma's (not to mention, my) 401k edges lower and lower and lower...

    That pesky Fourteenth Amendment, you know...

    "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

    Sorry Mitt, but corporations ain't people.

I've finally learned what "upward compatible" means. It means we get to keep all our old mistakes. -- Dennie van Tassel