Oct 25, 2011

The humble credit card is now a political tool

WikiLeaks has been so dependent on the business model built up during the commercialisation of the web -- that all one needs to do is get people people to hit the "confirm payment" button -- that the withdrawal of such became a political tool.

Guy Rundle — Correspondent-at-large

Guy Rundle


WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange has announced that the organisation again will start accepting submissions of leaked material via its website on November 28, a year to the day from the release of the Cablegate material.


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22 thoughts on “The humble credit card is now a political tool

  1. Suzanne Blake

    Just goes to show how much power they have over the internet with the credit card and other payment modes

  2. animaldander

    a list of credit unions that can process internet transactions would be useful (Crikey?) what are the alternatives, other than bitcoin (hard for non computer literates). I will happily close my (big 4) bank account and move to any credit union that offers internet banking that does not use visa, mastercard or pay pal.

  3. pk_x

    Proof that the reality of internet communications is far more complex and nuanced than earlier, wildly optimistic theories of total communications globalisation.

    What would happen if Wikileaks urged a boycott of Mastercard/Visa/PP etc? I doubt they would find much support.

  4. Brian Taylor

    Strange how Visa, PayPal and Mastercard have no qualms about transferring funds to the Klu Klux Klan but WikiLeaks is somehow beyond the pale.

    Shameful intervention on the part of the big credit cards.

  5. joanjett

    Interesting how the humble cheque book has come back into vogue after reports of its demise in the 80’s, thanks to the miraculous BankCard. Don’t forget that in Australia our affair with electronic transactions is ubiquitous and long term. When I lived in Italy for many years cash was (and still is) totally king. People look at credit cards with mistrust and it’s clear why. (Incidently that is one of the consequences of why Italy’s governement is having so many financial problems, so many of their small businesses accept cash and then don’t pay IVA on the transactions.) Credit cards make transactions visible to the tax man!
    I got a cheque book when my eldest daughter lost her school fees (cash in an envelope) one term (obviously not at a private school!). I used it as a back up when my debit card was compromised and my bank account was cleaned out recently. They have a system of pre-paid credit cards over in Europe for those who mistrust credit cards but they are issued by Visa & MasterCard (of course!) so no good for poor Wikileaks………..

  6. Hogarth

    As ANIMALDANGER stated…. the only alternative is Bitcoin.

    Fast (send to anywhere on the planet in seconds, first confirmation in ~10 minutes), secure (uses SHA256 and ECDSA) and as anonymous as you want it to be (Run it over the TOR network) and the big one….. cheap (You can send $1 or $1,000,000 for a fraction of a cent).

  7. John64

    Won’t necessarily work Animal. It depends on the channels the payments go through and at some point, usually Visa or Mastercard are involved – they can always use their muscle to shut-down anyone who tries to process their payments through another channel.

    Besides, why do WikiLeaks need so much cash to publish anyway? This is the internet age after all. Seems more like they’re raising money for Assange’s defence fund.

  8. Steven Warren

    John bandwidth cost money.

    When you require enough bandwidth to host most of the worlds political reporters plus hundreds of thousands of casual enquirers the cost is a little higher than your typical home ADSL plan.

  9. Scott

    The irony is that if Wikileaks was based in the US, it would probably have better protections in regards to free speech via the first amendment and it would have been less likely to be cut off by US companies like Visa and Mastercard.
    The only reason the KKK still exists in the US is because of this fundamental right to free speech and political association. Unlike Wikileaks, the clan is a legal entity, based in the US and subject to US laws and regulations so Visa and Mastercard are happy to accept it as a customer, even if, in my opinion, it is pretty dodgy morally.
    Wikileaks believes it is better off in Sweden due to it’s journalism shield laws, but it’s more of a publisher than a journalism site so I think it’s a liability for them. As shown, they can become isolated and hence subject to these sort of boycotts. Whereas US whistleblower sites like the Drudge Report and Mother Jones continue to operate as per normal.

  10. Mark from Melbourne

    Not that I am associating Wikileaks with these organisations, but how do good old fashioned terrorist organisations like the IRA get their donations from their US supporters – or hasn’t Paypal banned them?

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