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Pirate Party steps up to stop online payment providers from cancelling services

Updated Scolds providers over Wikileaks block
Tue Nov 20 2012, 13:40
European Parliament

THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT has acted to make sure that payment providers like Visa and Mastercard are not able to whip services out from under customers like Wikileaks.

The initiative comes from the Swedish Pirate Party in reaction to the blockade on donations to Wikileaks last year.

Wikileaks has already filed suit against Visa and Mastercard, but now the Pirate Party has made protection a goal and has added it into legislation.

"It is the opinion of the European Parliament that the amount of enterprises, whose operations are wholly dependent on the ability of receiving payment by credit card, is likely to increase," reads the legislation according to a post from Rick Falkvinge, the leader and founder of the Swedish Pirate Party.

"The Parliament therefore considers it to be in the public interest to establish firm and objective regulations that determine the circumstances and processes, by which a card payment [programme] can unilaterally refuse service."

The text and its acceptance are the work of Pirate Party member and Member of the European Parliament Christian Engström. Engstrom said that it will apply both to businesses and whistleblowing organisations.

"It is not reasonable [that] Visa, MasterCard and Paypal may decide that small Swedish companies that sell horror movies or sex toys should not be allowed to continue to sell their products online only [because] paying intermediaries are afraid of American moralism," he wrote.

"Another example is when Visa, Mastercard and Paypal blocked payments to WikiLeaks. There was no legal basis and [it] should be seen as the three companies helped the US government to silence an inconvenient voice. It is not acceptable that private corporations have the power of [controlling] free speech."

We have asked Visa and Mastercard to respond.

Rick Falkvinge points us towards the EP approved translated text, where previously we had used his informal version.

"Considers it likely that there will be a growing number of European companies whose activities are effectively dependent on being able to accept payments by card," says the official text.

"Considers it to be in the public interest to define objective rules describing the circumstances and procedures under which card payment schemes may unilaterally refuse acceptance." µ


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