WikiLeaks to sue Visa and MasterCard

WikiLeaks to sue Visa and MasterCard

WikiLeaks has announced plans to sue Visa and MasterCard over their refusal to process donations to the whistle-blowing service.

WikiLeaks is working with lawyers in Denmark and Iceland and its credit card processing partner DataCell to sue the card schemes for "engaging in an unlawful, US influenced, financial blockade".

Lawyers for the firm say that if the ongoing blockade is not removed Visa, MasterCard and Danish card processor Teller will be litigated in Denmark and a request for prosecution under EU competition laws will be filed with the European Commission. Visa Europe, MasterCard Europe, and Teller (a Danish company licensed to process transactions on behalf of the card companies) are the subjects of the complaint.

WikiLeaks says that Teller has acknowledged that it is ready to reinstate processing as due diligence by the company has not found any violations by DataCell, but, despite this, the company "has been ordered by Visa and MasterCard to keep the payment services closed".

WikiLeaks says the strangling of fund raising has so far cost it $15 million in lost revenue. It says further actions in other jurisdictions will follow.

The penalty for infringing the competition rules of the EU can amount to 10% of the turnover of the companies involved. Moreover, violators of the competition rules may now be sued in most jurisdictions within the EU for damages under the law on tort.

Comments: (3)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 04 July, 2011, 16:26Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

 I thought that Visa and Mastercard enable cardholders to shop around the world and pay  at point of sale with the card issued. This both in face to face merchant outlets and in e commerce. So if wikileaks is claiming unlawful blocade my question is- what are they selling?  Do they have a physical store or an e commerce sales outfit? If it is donations - then it looks more like credit transfers and this is not really the business of Visa and Mastercard but bank services like swift. Also anti money laundry and know your customer requirements are different for credit transfers than for card payments. So can anybody give clarity here - what is wikileaks selling? If they are not selling anything, why have they had a card acceptance agreement? Or is it somebody else that has had a card acceptance agreement on their behalf?

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 08 July, 2011, 10:03Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

We accept checks or money orders, or you can charge your donation om MastrCard or Visa. Donations to the American Red Cross.

Ku Klux Klan KKK accept donations via Visa or Mastercard.

I would ask WTF are they selling?

Seems an emotional argument to me, not found on rationale. A sure as the sun rises Visa, Mastercard & Paypal will be funding wikileaks for years to come.

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 08 July, 2011, 13:12Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Dear Dean,

two wrongs does not make one right. The fact that one may pay money to kukluxklan or red cross with a visa or mastercard does make it right.  An acquirer bank has probably violated a number of card scheme rules and most probably also regulatory rules. The world is full of breach of practices but not everybody get caught. When I read my card terms and conditions, I have permission to pay for goods and services and draw cash with my card. I cannot find credit transfer in there. Visa and Mastercard should also stop the other "credit transfer" users. May be you can ask your financial services authority if these transactions meet the know your customer and anti money laundry requirements? From your comment I see that you admit that Wikileaks is not selling anything - just collecting money.