WikiLeaks takes war against Visa and MasterCard to Europe

14 Jul 2011

WikiLeaks and its payment partner DataCell have filed a formal complaint to the European Commission saying the decision by Visa Europe and MasterCard to block donations violates EU antitrust laws.

In a complaint filed alongside Iceland-based IT company DataCell, WikiLeaks says Visa and MasterCard have breached Articles 101 and 102 of the EU Treaty.

DataCell has a contract with WikiLeaks to collect credit card donations on its behalf.

Since December, Visa and MasterCard blocked WikiLeaks from using their networks to collect donations.

DataCell, which operates a data centre in Iceland powered by renewable energy resources, said it believes Visa and MasterCard are abusing their dominant positions in the market.

“It can be said that responsibility to our surroundings, politically, socially and environmentally, brought WikiLeaks to DataCell,” it said in a statement. DataCell offered payment gateway services to WikiLeaks through DataCell´s merchant account with a licensee of Visa and MasterCard in Denmark and through this gateway DataCell received donations for WikiLeaks.

“In December 2010, after only seven weeks of operation, the Danish licensee terminated its order of the card companies, and thereby the gateway for donations to WikiLeaks was closed.

“WikiLeaks is not a business organisation, but DataCell is. Together Visa and MasterCard have over 96pc of the payment card market in Europe and when these organisations deny businesses which rely on selling their services online access to their networks they contravene the antitrust rules of the European Union, both as regards the ban on restrictive business practices and the one that prohibits the abuse of market dominance,” DataCell said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years