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Legal threat to Visa, MasterCard over Wikileaks move

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.
Written by Tom Espiner, Contributor on

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.

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