DataCell files complaint with EU against Visa, MasterCard

The complaint comes soon after Visa briefly allowed DataCell to process payments for WikiLeaks

DataCell, an Icelandic company that accepted donations on behalf of WikiLeaks, filed a complaint with the European Commission earlier this week against Visa Europe and MasterCard Europe for halting its ability to process payments.

DataCell had threatened legal action over the shut down earlier this month. But the company held off after it found a new a new payment acquirer, Valitor, willing to process payments to WikiLeaks around July 7.

Visa, however, shut down the link just a few hours after it had accepted a high amount of donations for the whistle-blowing website, said Sveinn Andri Sveinsson, DataCell's attorney.

MasterCard, Visa, Western Union, Bank of America and PayPal stopped processing payments for WikiLeaks after it began releasing some of 250,000 secret U.S. diplomatic cables in November 2010.

DataCell's complaint, which alleges violations of the European Union's competition rules, was sent on Tuesday to the Commission, which handles competition issues, Sveinsson said.

"Hopefully they will start an investigation," Sveinsson on Friday.

DataCell, which runs a data center in Iceland and offers hosting services, remains unable to process Visa or MasterCard payments, which has crippled its business, the complaint alleges.

The complaint says that donations and other transactions through DataCell's payment gateway were processed by Korta, the Icelandic agent for Teller, a payment services provider based in Denmark.

DataCell's complaint alleges that Visa and MasterCard ordered Teller to stop processing donations to WikiLeaks. DataCell had a contract with Teller to process payments, but Teller terminated the contract on Dec. 7, 2010.

The complaint says that no one who has taken part in preparing or processing whistle-blowing material for WikiLeaks has been indicted or prosecuted within the European Economic Area. DataCell had processed payments for other nongovernmental and humanitarian organizations that do not have their own merchant account for processing credit-card payments.

WikiLeaks continues to release the diplomatic cables, while its founder, Julian Assange is awaiting the result of an appeals court hearing that concluded on Wednesday in London. He is fighting extradition to Sweden on potential charges of molestation and rape unrelated to his website.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com

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Tags internetlegalInternet-based applications and servicesDataCell

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Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
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