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New free press foundation helps WikiLeaks to subvert banking blockade

17 December 2012  |  3891 views  |  0 silhouette Crowd

A new foundation dedicated to promoting media transparency and fighting censorship is to support WikiLeaks in its efforts to subvert a two-year block on payments by Visa and MasterCard.

The Freedom of the Press Foundation, an initiative of Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) co-founder John Perry Barlow, former Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, the actor John Cusack and others, will crowd-source fundraising for organisations engaged in 'public-interest journalism'.

The block on payments to WikiLeaks followed its publication of sensitive US diplomatic cables and has so far choked off more than 95% of donations to the site. WikiLeaks coffers have been severely depleted by the action, running primary cash reserves down from more than a million dollars in 2010 to under a thousand dollars, as of December 2012.

The Foundation's first 'bundle' will crowd-source funds for WikiLeaks, the National Security Archive, The UpTake and MuckRock News. Donors will be able to use a slider to set how much of their donation they wish each organisation to receive and can donate using their credit cards. The Foundation holds 501(c) charitable status, so donations are tax-deductible in the US. The amount of money paid to each organisation by individual donors will not be recorded.

John Perry Barlow says the initiative aims to achieve more than just crowd-sourced fundraising: "We hope it makes a moral argument against these sorts of actions. But it could also be the basis of a legal challenge. We now have private organisations with the ability to stifle free expression. These companies have no bill of rights that applies to their action - they only have terms of service."

The new initiative, combined with a recent victory in Germany, means contributions to WikiLeaks now have tax-deductible status throughout the United States and Europe.

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