War on transparency: the WikiLeaks banking blockade

For six months, VISA, MasterCard, PayPal, Bank of America and Western Union have blocked donations to WikiLeaks.

I don’t think I could put it any better than the New York Times did:

“A bank’s ability to block payments to a legal entity raises a troubling prospect. A handful of big banks could potentially bar any organization they disliked from the payments system, essentially cutting them off from the world economy…What would happen if a clutch of big banks decided that a particularly irksome blogger or other organization was ‘too risky’? What if they decided — one by one — to shut down financial access to a newspaper that was about to reveal irksome truths about their operations? This decision should not be left solely up to business-as-usual among the banks.”

And other sources have pointed out some of the delightful things you can use Visa or Mastercard to pay for: porn, support for militant anti-abortion groups and Prop 8-promoting bigots and the KKK.

Transparency scares people. It scares the people on top. It threatens the current order of things. It shifts the location of power. Because knowledge is power.

I love the name WikiLeaks. I envision a great big boat with water seeping into it, slow but uncontrollable, and a whole posse of people getting their nice business suits soaked as they try to plug up the leaks.

Also, as a side note: I was wondering a couple of days ago about digital currency and what it is and what it’s good for. Turns out you can still donate to WikiLeaks through a digital currency called BitCoin. So, there you have it.

What Does it Cost to Change the World? from WikiLeaks on Vimeo.


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