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back to article Wikileaks loses briefly-open Icelandic payment channel

So WikiLeaks and Julian Assange™ have been frustrated again: on the money front that is. They're back to cash, Bitcoin and bank transfers as a method of receiving donations. There had been a hope last week that DataCell would be able to start processing donations, for it had made an agreement with the Icelandic bank Valitor to …

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Anonymous Coward

Now, see ...

This is frankly sinister.

When someone is actively prevented from giving someone else money, without legislative reason, we can't possibly claim to be living in a "free society™", now can we?

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Indeed

Wikileaks have been charged with no crime and only seem to be working to ensure that we the voters actually have an informed democracy - how dare us mere plebs know what our government is doing!!!

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@Craigg...Now See

When someone is actively prevented from giving someone else money, without legislative reason,........

Actually, the reverse could be applied, when a payment system is compelled to provide a service...we can't possibly claim to be living in a "free society™", now can we?

These are private companies, it is their choice who they do business with. There is nothing preventing you using methods of payment listed in the article (or handing over cash)

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Anonymous Coward

Money and Morals ...

"These are private companies, it is their choice who they do business with."

Not quite true.

Private companies engaged in financial transactions are regulated by international rulings that actively prevent them deploying 'I don't like your face' rules ad hoc to people they decide they don't want to do business with.

Credit card companies are in fact ACTIVELY under obligation to transact legal business transfers unless there IS compelling evidence that doing so would be illegal.

Likes, ethics and morals do NOT enter into business transactions. If it is perfectly legal to make a transfer of funds to another party then why garner comment by refusing to do so? Answer: its political.

"There is nothing preventing you using methods of payment listed in the article (or handing over cash)"

No. Quite correct. Nothing at all. So far ...

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"Private" companies

They're private only in the sense that they are controlled by a small number of people. They are public utilities in every other sense. As such, they should be compelled to provide the service on which the public depend.

To pretend that Visa/Mastercard are not as important to modern Western life as water and electricity is untenable. Turning off their services on a whim is no different from an electricity company turning off the power to a factory because they don't like the owner.

If, as "private" companies they are not able to live up to the responsibilities they have, in fact, purposely taken onto themselves then they should no longer be allowed to continue as private companies.

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Maybe

St Julian should go to the States and lodge a legal challenge?

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Black Helicopters

@Craiggy

I fail to see your point.

You can easily go and write a check at any time put it in the post. There's always cash too.

I mean no offense but the IRA raised a shit load of money in the heavily Irish neighborhoods of Boston in cash and got it funneled to Ireland to buy weapons....

So your comment doesn't hold water.

Not only did Wikileaks knowingly dump millions of classified documents on to the web with total disregard for their contents, only to claim to 'vet' them after the fact, but Wikileaks also claimed to have documents that would expose a very large US Bank.

These types of actions tend to piss off companies that spend millions to lobby the US Government for favorable laws and legislation that makes their companies more profitable. And then when you shit on their customers? Sorry, no one is forcing you to do business with them. Like I said earlier. There's always cash...

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Anonymous Coward

Have you noticed...

... that paypal was just crowing about how many accounts they "service"? Adding the prediction that by 2015 americans can do away with cash. Convenient, no?

https://www.thepaypalblog.com/2011/06/paypal-crosses-first-100-million-active-accounts-4/

In other countries it's actually going further than that. Over in cloggyland the central bank is chairing a committee bent on rooting out cash entirely, replacing it with chip&pin. Because that's so much more convenient for everyone. Especially since obviously the only thing consumers do with their money is spend it at chip&pin-equipped retailers. What could you possibly want with cash then, eh?

That is, your assumption you can always fall back to cash or cheques (those got killed in various places on the continent even over a decade ago, back then in favour of magstripe&pin) may not hold for much longer. In fact, various parties are bent on making that sooner rather than later.

That in turn is exactly why we need some replacement medium of exchange with all --and not just the parts convenient for retail and some extra paper trails for governing-- the flexibility of cash that works ideally both on-line and off-line. Which of course would be hell on the virtual monopoly big payment holds. So we can't count on them to provide such a thing.

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Anonymous Coward

Allow me ...

"You can easily go and write a check at any time put it in the post. There's always cash too."

Quite so. Don't worry. I like cash and it seldom fails. My cash donations are usually anonymous and cash based.

"I mean no offense but the IRA raised a shit load of money in the heavily Irish neighborhoods of Boston in cash and got it funneled to Ireland to buy weapons...."

You have made my point for me, thanks.

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WTF?

@Craiggy ... Huh?

"Now, see ... #

Posted Monday 11th July 2011 11:55 GMT

This is frankly sinister.

When someone is actively prevented from giving someone else money, without legislative reason, we can't possibly claim to be living in a "free society™", now can we?

"

This was your initial post to which I was responding to.

As I said, there is nothing sinister because Wikileaks can still receive cash donations even while Visa and MC are not allowing them to use their systems to process payments.

So I fail to understand what point you were attempting to make in your initial post.

With or without Visa/MC/Amex/Discover/Diners/etc you are still living in a free society.

At the same time, you're free to bash the CC card houses just as they are free to not want to do business with you when you violate their T's and C's.

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Anonymous Coward

Why yes

It very probably is high drama of the Assange trademark. But that doesn't mean the payment processor molochs are automatically in the right. In fact, I think they're flat-out wrong to play the moral police by deciding as to who might pay whom.

It's a bit like censorship: If you allow it at all, then you get in a veritable morass of needing to decide just where you draw the line. What shade of grey is black, and what still white?

"The west"'s condemnation of China's great firewall, when seen from sufficient distance, starts to look hypocritical in a hurry knowing that various holier-than-thou governments themselves use various backhanded ways, from secret blacklists to highly questionable domain seizures, to control just what you might access. It really doesn't matter what the excuse-du-jour is. It's cencorship.

Wikileaks unquestionably attacks the status quo. It also unquestionably does it in a way that exposes rights and wrongs with little discrimination. If it is true that, as plenty parties in the establishment have exhorted the people, if you've nothing to hide, you've nothing to fear, then the establishment has no argument against it. So what is wrong with Big Payment?

Taking a principled stand like this of course brings up the counter that if no payments are to be blocked then all sorts of crooks, criminals, terrorists, child abusers, and what-have-you perhaps all bad persons rolled into one, also might use payment services. And what of it?

If the police were doing their job then all those bad and worse people would not be free to do anything including transfering money back and forth. I'd prefer we focus on fixing that over papering over the fact they're failing to do their job by having unaccountable commercial parties do a sideline of yet another shoddy job of the policing for them.

Besides, the really big bad fish either are or own the government. So stop bothering the small fry already. Then again big payment is big. Oh dear.

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Mushroom

Dont get me wrong.....

... I personally think that Assange is one of the biggest assholes on the face of the planet and wikileaks is a pimple on this, but this behaviour by credit card companies is just plain wrong. Can you imagine if they suddenly decided not to process any payments for apple? ( Yes I agree this would be a good thing )The outcry would be enourmous. Its one thing the courts freezing the accounts of a person or organization suspected of nefarious activities its another thing when a private company with no accountability doing the same thing.

I suppose nuking wikileaks from orbit is out of the question?

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CREDIT cards.

But VISA and Mastercard are under no obligation to process a payment from or to anybody. They are merely a third-party company (not a "bank") that may or may not extend you a line of credit (that happens to be available to use from high street shops and Internet sites) and may or may not accept or refuse any individual transaction for just about any reason they like.

Credit cards aren't "currency", they are credit. That's how their business works - you're taking a short-term "loan" out, to pay it back later (end of the month) and it just so happens that the credit on this loan is accepted by lots of shops as a method of payment. It's *credit* that is given voluntarily to a user and can only be used where such credit is recognised. If you're not credit-worthy, you will never get a credit card. Similarly, an "Icelandic Bank Credit Card" is likely to be worthless and accepted nowhere, a bit like American Express.

The problem is not the credit card companies - the problem is that people are so reliant on them that it's somehow shocking when they refuse to deal with you. You want to use their services but they are under no obligation to let you unlike, say, certain banks. And anyone can say "Sorry, I don't take VISA" in the same way they can say "I don't take AmEx" or "I won't take 50 camels in exchange for this product".

VISA and Mastercard are US-based, so they have to follow US law. If they are being stamped upon by the US, they will never do business with you and/or never extend you credit. Stupidly, both of the largest credit cards in the world are US-based, apparently.

They are under no obligation to deal with you. They are also under immense political pressure NOT to deal with you. This isn't *their* fight. And nothing in the world stops you taking cheques, cash, bank transfers etc.

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Holmes

Pray tell, whose CREDIT then?

These parties extend credit to cardholders, who're then presumably free who to hand out the credit to, paying up later. This isn't about visa and mastercard refusing to furnish Assange with a card to hold. They're refusing to pass the money on to wikileaks. Refusing to offer credit I might agree with. But that is quite the other end from what is actually happening.

Besides, both being American[tm] companies, and wikileaks having obviously political connotations, you could ask why monies donated to gop & dem are to be protected as "free speech"* and monies donated to wikileaks would not be. If you have a cogent argument on this, I'd love to hear it.

As a self-appointed guardian of free speech, the USoA government seems to belie itself.

* See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-13906274 for an interesting angle on how unbriddled political donating are not helping reducing the Mountain of American Debt.

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@Lee Dowling

You're missing the fact that Visa and Mastercard *don't* just provide _credit_ cards - they also provide Debit cards, and pre-pay cards. With the latter two essentially they're telling you you can't spend your money, *which they're holding for you* with whoever you like.

+1 for used notes.

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Anonymous Coward

I see. So then, you'd have no problem

with me using a credit card to pay Guido to put the hit on you? And more importantly, you insist that Mastercard and VISA [b] MUST [/b] process that payment.

Nope, you're just another greedy little covetous bugger.

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Um, actually, donations to the GOP and the Dems aren't free speech.

Under the provisions of McCain-Feingold, they've become the most regulated forms of speech engaged in on this side of the pond. But you probably wouldn't know that since you probably approved of the law.

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Anonymous Coward

Let me tell you about currency ...

Lee, currency is ALSO credit. ALL money is credit. Extended to individuals, companies, countries and governments (including and especially in the case of US $).

Without it, economics of almost any type currently in vogue could not work. You have said this yourself.

The money in your pocket is based *entirely* on credit. There is no difference. Unless you default.

A cheque IS the same as a banknote: its a promise to pay. Its make-believe and it goes round and round making more of itself based on interest. Which of course is just more of the same.

Not saying its right (quite the reverse) but its the reality of the condition in which we ALL find ourselves.

There *are* rules governing transfers of monies -- and here they appear to be getting bent to suit political agenda.

Don't waste your time defending credit card companies -- they don't need or care about your support.

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Meh

Uhh

Paying for an assassination = Illegal and you will be charged and imprisoned

Releasing documents = Not illegal (copyright aside) and strangely enough Wikileaks haven't been charge with anything, strange that.

Illegal and Legal, there is a difference.

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At the same time

They don't seem to be able (or care about) fake AV and bogus pills using their payment system to rip off people.

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Hah

As a woman I know often says, "Shit happens when you party naked". Julian has been partying for a long time. Whining about the consequences is as silly as complaining when you bait someone with sharp sticks and they put your lights out... ...though of course this whining will, he thinks, gain him more support. However, the more I watch him the more I think of Rupert Murdoch; self appointed, not elected, inflicting his preferences on the world without consultation, or acknowledging the sovereignty of electorates.

Tomorrow Julian will I hope find that a legally applied arrest warrant is just that, and that flitting Sweden was a silly thing to do.

His legal council in Sweden may by now have been dealt with by his professional association, who appear to be very annoyed with him, on account of lying about being contacted by the police (in fact he magically found a text from them, whilst giving evidence in a UK court!). Then then there is the matter of whether or not he was complicit in Assange's flight from Sweden, thus evading the Swedish police's attempts to arrest and interview him.

Additionally, I would expect the Swedish police officer who notified Assange's legal council of his impending arrest to be the subject of disciplinary and retraining procedures. No one comes out of that incident looking very good.

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Devil

If you piss in the pool....

...you may be asked to leave.

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Devil

Re: If you piss in the pool....

"...you may be asked to leave."

What if he's also pissed in the gene pool, I ask rhetorically.

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No one seems to have noticed....

First, an aside. WIkiLeaks is NOT a "whistle-blowing" entity. A "whistle-blower" is the insider who obtains documents about wrong-doing and makes them public. WikiLeaks is not an insider and obtains no documents; it is given documents which it then sells to whomever it is able. So obviously they are not "whistle-blowers", they are both publishers, and vendors peddling documents to publishers, such as newspapers.

Am I the only one who noticed that WikiLeaks itself stated that they have lost $15 million in donations because of the electronic payment problems?

That's a lot of money, in case you don't know. And it is only a small part of their income, considering all the time that they didn't have these electronic payment problems, and in view of other means for them to receive money, and also in consideration of the income they earn from deals with newspapers for the right to publish the documents they obtain. (And this is assuming, with no good reason, that they do not engage in run-of-the-mill extortion and blackmail, which I think is a dubious assumption, but I will make it here, all the same.)

Where does that money go, I wonder.

I certainly hope that someone tells Bradley Manning about these numbers, so that that little asshole can get a somewhat clearer view of the people for whose benefit he was working and for which he will be and is being punished. I am sure that he is luxuriating in the comfort of all the top-notch legal help that WikiLeaks $15,000 pittance will bring him, while WikiLeaks harvests, literally, millions and millions.

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Mushroom

No one seems to have noticed....

Turtle,

You seem to be a patriotic American, and I suspect a fundamentalist like George Bush.

Via Freedom ,Democracy and Fraternity- found outside of American these days.

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Anonymous Coward

Private Eye

Private Eye

Submitted at Monday 11th July 2011 14:02 GMT

Also attacks the status quo. But I don't see any problem paying for a subscription via Visa or Mastercard. Visa and Mastercard also handle the majority of Debit Card payments in this country. What if they arbitrarily decide to stop processing all payments from people called Smith who happen to work for XXX or are involved in YYY?

Hmmmm?

Lyndon B. Johnson who happened to own all the radio stations in Texas at one time attempted to bias the election in his favour but was told by the FCC in no uncertain terms he was legally obliged to give equal airtime to his political opponents or be shut down.

Similarly, Visa and Mastercard have NO rights political or otherwise. They have OBLIGATIONS and failure in those obligations is a criminal offence, unless of course, someone else is calling the shots.

Do keep up.

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I expect their lawyers are calling the shots

and they've advised them that they would have unacceptable levels of liability if they continue to handle accounts for WikiLeaks.

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FAIL

Re: Private Eye

"Lyndon B. Johnson who happened to own all the radio stations in Texas at one time attempted to bias the election in his favour but was told by the FCC in no uncertain terms he was legally obliged to give equal airtime to his political opponents or be shut down.

Similarly, Visa and Mastercard have NO rights political or otherwise. They have OBLIGATIONS and failure in those obligations is a criminal offence, unless of course, someone else is calling the shots."

I have only just noticed this. From only a brief scan I noticed that you make a category error, by conflating banking with radio broadcasting during elections. There is nothing in common between the two. Banks can refuse business if they want, but do keep it up. As to private eye, another conflated issue; I have not seen them hosting thousands of secret documents, half inched from another government. Perhaps they're doing it quietly, right?

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Happy

Wikileaks and The Russia House

Sometimes the end does justify the means.

Wikileaks and Manning have collectively held many governments feet to the fire revealing the policy makers, business leaders, and politicians to be a bunch of lying bastards who ought to be the first up against the wall.

Julian's an asswipe but even asswipes have their uses.

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Due Proccess

As Assange begins his extradition hearings, Bradley Manning is still in jail. Regardless of whether or not you believe he is guilty, he deserves his due process, which he doesn't seem to be getting. I saw an interview earlier with a friend of his who has visited him in prison, and it is obvious that Manning's constitutional rights are being violated, you can watch it here: http://www.democracynow.org/2011/7/11/david_house_on_bradley_manning_secret

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«Might sound unfair, might even be unfair,

but pissing off the big boys always does have consequences ...» Ah, a new political philosopher and moralist has been born in Tim Worstall's gestalt - wonderful that Reg contributors continue to preach their mafia morality : cosa nostra, indeed !...

Henri

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Anonymous Coward

Welcome to the Real World

St Julian decided to play with the big boys. The big boys play hardball. Shouldn't play if you can't stand the pace.

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Facepalm

Title #1

I find it hilarious that you all up in arms, moaning that banks/CC companies are stopping people like Assange getting money yet if BAE were stopped from receiving payments from customers because of something they did (that wasn't proven), you'd all be very happy and making comments like "finally, they're cracking down on blah blah blah'.

The above is a FACT for most people ranting about this situation. Make sure you are consistent with your support and would be happy to stand against this decision, no matter who it affected.

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