Legal threat to Visa, MasterCard over Wikileaks move

Legal threat to Visa, MasterCard over Wikileaks move

Summary: A hosting company has said it will take immediate legal action against Visa and MasterCard over the payments companies' refusal to process donations for whistleblower site Wikileaks.DataCell EHF, a hosting company based in Iceland, facilitates donations to Wikileaks.

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TOPICS: Security
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A hosting company has said it will take immediate legal action against Visa and MasterCard over the payments companies' refusal to process donations for whistleblower site Wikileaks.

DataCell EHF, a hosting company based in Iceland, facilitates donations to Wikileaks. DataCell said that it had been losing revenue since Visa and Mastercard decided to stop processing Wikileaks' donations.

"DataCell EHF... has decided to take up immediate legal actions (sic) to make donations possible again," said DataCell chief executive Andreas Fink in a statement on Wednesday.

Fink told ZDNet UK that DataCell would pursue legal action as soon as possible.

"Not being able to receive money from the public for a week can cost Wikileaks 7 digit figures in losses, and DataCell as well, as it is unable to process any cards," Fink said.

The suit will be filed in the UK against Visa Europe. The company will file a court case with a request for an immediate injunction "to limit further damage," Fink said.

Wikileaks donations can still be made via wire transfer, but that MasterCard and Visa handle small donations, which make up the majority, according to Fink.

"Wire transfers are good if you want to transfer €10,000, but if you want to pay €10, the costs of the transfer eat up the donation," said Fink. "Visa and MasterCard are vital for the small amount donations, and that's around 99.9 percent of the donations."

On Wednesday MasterCard's corporate site was brought down. A Twitter account claiming to be linked to Anonymous said that the group had launched a sustained denial of service attack in reprisal for MasterCard's actions over Wikileaks.

MasterCard's SecureCode identity verification system experienced difficulties, according to the SecureTrading site.

"Please be advised that MasterCard SecureCode Support has detected a service disruption to the MasterCard Directory Server," the statement said. "The Directory Server service has been failed over to a secondary site however customers may still be experiencing intermittent connectivity issues. More information on the estimated time of recovery will be shared in due course."

A MasterCard spokesman told ZDNet UK that customers could still use their cards.

"It is important to note that our systems have not been compromised and there is no impact on our cardholders' ability to use their cards for secure transactions globally," said the spokesman.

Topic: Security

Tom Espiner

About Tom Espiner

Tom is a technology reporter for ZDNet.com. He covers the security beat, writing about everything from hacking and cybercrime to threats and mitigation. He also focuses on open source and emerging technologies, all the while trying to cut through greenwash.

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14 comments
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  • After all what’s the point of freedom and responsibility and opportunity if you are denied such things only to have the world figured out and sold to you in convenient episodes that so often serve to conveniently serve the indoctrinated/vested power bases and their infomercial packages?

    After all is it really all about freedom as Mastercard so often boasts in its commercials? I wonder...

    http://scallywagandvagabond.com/2010/12/media-transparency-mastercard-and-payback/
    iamandami
  • I think this will be the beginning of the World CyberWar I
    jterrano1
  • This is not about freedom. It's more about some sell out person who enjoys the freedom That places like The USA have afforded him. Yet he take classified documents and distribute
    them to the world like there the comic strips. I hope the free goverments of the world keeps
    this guy behind bars for the rest of his life. He is only spreading division. He has no business
    in goverment classified computer documents.
    cnixon-192d8
  • cnixon, Assange enjoys the "freedom" (or he did) of a few countries in Europe, not the USA; the USA would have shipped him off to Guantanamo Bay without trial or due process some time ago so for you to bring the "freedom" of the USA into this is downright disingenuous or just ignorant.

    What Wikileaks, and others, have exposed is that this freedom is being quickly eroded by governments just like the USA who would rather mete out freedom only on its own terms and take it from anyone who dares to uncover their hypocrisy, lies and killings (which it has tried so hard to cover up with pretensions of "national security").

    I suggest more than a cursory look at these issues is needed, not that kind of simplistic "patriotic" trumpeting.
    authentictech
  • I believe press freedom has always been an important part of the USA way of life. There seems to be a minority desire to hurt Assange for using this freedom. Assange stole nothing, leaked nothing, he simply blogged stuff he was given.
    If we only have permission to blog what the Fascist minority want us to, then we are in deep trouble.
    Cnixon may like to lock up people for enjoying their freedom, but this is obviously a strange point of view, and not one any reasonable person would advocate.
    concerned-3b459
  • All I can see is your way of thinking have gotten us 911. Also long frustrating lines at airports. Can't express your religion in certain countries for fear of being murdered. You go to one of there countries you follow a strict line of rules. They come here and demand we conform to their way of life.

    As far as some of the extremist that is locked away at Guantanamo without trials. Maybe you need to reflect upon all the bombings of innocent people that have taken placed in the last few decades. The very people who are screening Allah, is great, yet producing some of the most deadly drugs on earth to undermine society with. I am willing to bet, if they were to act in a subversive way towards there government. You would not get a chance to read it on the Internet.
    cnixon-192d8
  • cnixon, the rest of the world believes that the US's way of thinking bought you 9-11. The US has a long history of dirty deals, broken promises, economic colonization and victimization of vulnerable developing nations. That history is public domain and readily available for anyone intelligent enough to investigate it.

    Sadly, your command of English indicates that you are not among that population, so at this point, attempting to educate you on why Assange and men like him are so necessary to peace and freedom would be akin to attempting to teach Cantonese to a chimpanzee.
    littlemissthang
  • In response to cnixon's comment about Guantanamo, how many in Guantanamo did the US govt. admit were innocent of any wrongdoing (not those who just could not be prosecuted but actually innocent)? And it's not just Guantanamo either—there are secret locations all over the world people get shipped to for interrogation and torture.

    Foreign religious extremists and 9/11 are the only justifications people in your position feel you have to wheel out to justify your country's bad behaviour abroad; however, it's similar bad behaviour that stoked the extremist violence in the first place.
    authentictech
  • European countries fought and continue to fight for their own freedoms with or without the help of the USA. Even though the USA (eventually, in the final years, after ensuring financial compensation) helped in WW2, the spirit to fight for freedom was in Europe already and continues to be there without the USA. We get tired of Americans telling us that we should be grateful to, and attribute our freedoms to, the USA. The USA has helped but they are not the only reason freedom and democracy exist in the world, nor did they invent the concept. Don't forget the founding fathers of the USA were all fully-fledged Europeans when the ideas first formed in their minds. For most of its short existence, the USA seemed content to just take care of its own affairs and not meddle with the rest of the world—something it should perhaps consider now going back to.

    Europe obtained its own religious and political freedoms via the self-sacrifice of its own brave freedom fighters and the tireless work of its political campaigners.

    The US power elites and the ignorance of many of its citizens now presents an even greater threat to democracy and freedom through its own developing internal policies and its cack-handed way of dealing with the rest of the world. Informed people all around the world are beginning to stand up and speak out, even for your own freedoms, whether you like it or not. Get ready.
    authentictech
  • This message is for all you back bitters, living in the USA. I don't think that the USA is a Angel.
    but, at the same time, I don't see a line forming among all you back Bitters, trying to leave here!
    PS.
    To the person who made the comment about my command of English. It's people like you who probably have sucked up on every public program the state have to offer. Then you have the nerve to make judgement about someones English. When did your ability to form words make you a better person in the eyes of common people. Your comment only goes to prove you are a narrow minded person. Who set your ass on a high hill,looking down on people attemting judgement. Yet you are among the lowest creeps of society.
    cnixon-192d8
  • If you truly believe in what you are saying, why don't you catch a plane and go join your
    counterparts in the other part of the world? No matter what you say, this is the preferred
    place to live to all the emigrants of the world. Why don't you make a law to let one live here in your place and you take there place in their part of the world?
    cnixon-192d8
  • "As far as some of the extremist that is locked away at Guantanamo without trials. Maybe you need to reflect upon all the bombings of innocent people that have taken placed in the last few decades."

    Maybe you should reflect upon all the innocent lives that the US has destroyed... And that includes American lives as well.

    Like authentic said:
    "Foreign religious extremists and 9/11 are the only justifications people in your position feel you have to wheel out to justify your country's bad behaviour abroad; however, it's similar bad behaviour that stoked the extremist violence in the first place."

    If you poke people, they tend to poke back... It's the same with you. I think at some point everyone is a bit hypocrite. But your level of hypocrisy is just astounding. I hope these comments motivate you to do a little research and maybe revise your moral views a bit.
    R!nzl3r
  • Thank you for your comments so far, but some are starting to verge on abuse. Please keep your comments respectful of each other, and to the point. Any abusive comments will be removed, and may cause comments to be disabled on this article.
    Tom Espiner
  • I would just like to finally point out that many of the commenters and contributors, like myself, do not live in the USA and, like myself, do not have any desire to emigrate there, especially following events of the last 10 years and the increasing intrusions into civil liberties there only likely to get worse. In the UK it is not *much* better but at least, in the last 100 years or so, we have mostly learned our lesson regarding empire and interference in other countries, now we only tend to follow along with American misadventures abroad (though the people broadly oppose it) when America says "jump" we jump. That is not to say it is the worst country in the world but being the most powerful country in the world the USA gets held to a higher standard, being able to do the most damage and having the most influence, and potential influence, on other countries' policies.

    Having said that, I still like America and I am influenced by a lot of good that comes out of there, so perhaps that is why it grieves me more when I see things I think are clearly wrong and heading in the wrong direction away from the things that make me (and many others, I'm sure) like America in the first place.
    authentictech