Feeds

Court orders Visa partner to allow donations to WikiLeaks

Credit card blockade begins to crack

Boost IT visibility and business value

WikiLeaks may soon be able to accept donations again, now that the Icelandic Supreme Court has ruled that the blockade on donations imposed by local Visa partner Valitor is illegal and has ordered the company to pay huge fines if it doesn't change its ways.

In its ruling, the court upheld an earlier court decision that cutting off WikiLeaks from donations was illegal and ordered Valitor (formerly known as Visa Iceland) to allow payments to the controversial organization. If it doesn't comply within 15 days, the company is ordered to pay a fine of 800,000 ISK ($6,829) per day.

"It's an extremely happy day," WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson told The Register. "We're now working on the preparation of litigation of international companies, taking it step by step via their subcontractors, focusing on those bowing under political pressure and ordering the payment closure worldwide."

He explained that in a similar legal case, Denmark Visa's payment processor had admitted that the ban had been instituted under pressure, although there has been no similar admission from Valitor in this case.

Shortly after WikiLeaks released US diplomatic cables in November 2010, the site was hit by a blockade on donations from Visa, MasterCard, and PayPal.

In the latter case, PayPal said that the ban was instituted because the US State Department claimed WikiLeaks was engaging in illegal activities. But in 2011, US Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner said that there were no grounds to block donations to WikiLeaks.

The blacklisting left the organization starved of funds, but it instituted legal action over the ban, pointing out that the three payment systems continued to provide services for such organizations as the Ku Klux Klan. Visa and MasterCard were also briefly hit with hacking attacks after the ban was revealed.

Wednesday's ruling could just be the start of more financially flush times for WikiLeaks, Hrafnsson explained, since the ruling could be augmented by a separate case by the whistle-blowing website's Icelandic payment processor and hosting firm, DataCell. DataCell had been driven nearly to bankruptcy by the blockade, he said, and the courts could also award it a serious chunk of cash in damages for lost business.

The ruling could also have an effect on WikiLeaks' ongoing complaint to the EU that the ban constitutes uncompetitive behavior. Hrafnsson said that the translated Supreme Court ruling will be sent to the EU as part of that case.

"This is a victory for free speech. This is a victory against the rise of economic censorship to crack down against journalists and publishers," said WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange in a statement.

"We thank the Icelandic people for showing that they will not be bullied by powerful Washington backed financial services companies like Visa. And we send out a warning to the other companies involved in this blockade: you're next." ®

The Power of One Brief: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
Philip K Dick 'Nazi alternate reality' story to be made into TV series
Amazon Studios, Ridley Scott firm to produce The Man in the High Castle
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Stick a 4K in them: Super high-res TVs are DONE
4,000 pixels is niche now... Don't say we didn't warn you
Bose says today is F*** With Dre Day: Beats sued in patent battle
Music gear giant seeks some of that sweet, sweet Apple pie
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Too many IT conferences to cover? MICROSOFT to the RESCUE!
Yet more word of cuts emerges from Redmond
Joe Average isn't worth $10 a year to Mark Zuckerberg
The Social Network deflates the PC resurgence with mobile-only usage prediction
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.