Today, the Swedish Pirate Party filed formal charges against Swedish banks for their discrimination against WikiLeaks, which has been systematically denied donations by payment providers since 2010.
Numerous payment service providers, including Visa, MasterCard, and PayPal, have blocked donations to WikiLeaks and other legal operations since 2010. Banks have been a part of the network of these service providers, which means that the banks actively participate in stopping donations without legitimate grounds. The Swedish Pirate Party says that this behavior is unacceptable and cause for grave concern, and has filed charges against the Swedish banks in question to try this behavior in court.
The charges were filed eariler today with the Swedish Finansinspektionen, the authority which oversees bank licenses and abuse of position. This follows an earlier initiative from the Pirate Party to regulate credit card companies on the European level in order to deny them the ability to determine who gets to trade and who doesn’t.
“The blockade is a serious threat against the freedoms of opinion and expression”, says the Pirate Party’s Erik Lönroth, who has been preparing the formal charges. “It must not be up to the individual payment provider to determine which organizations are eligible for donations. At the same time, these charges will bring clarity as to whether the bank regulations of today are sufficient, or if regulations need to be tightened to protect freedom of expression.”
It’s not just WikiLeaks that has been hurt by the randomness of the payment service providers. Swedish entrepreneurs such as sex toy shops and horror movie stores have also been denied payment services arbitrarily, which has effectively been a death sentence for the fully-legal companies.
Johan Terfelt, who oversees the Finansinspektionen unit for payment providers, confirms that the authority has received the filed charges, writes the Dagens Nyheter:
“We will now investigate what has happened and evaluate the reasons, if any, for us to intervene”, Terfelt tells the Dagens Nyheter. He also states there’s no room at all for arbitrary randomness, and gives a careful hint at a possible outcome: “The law states, that if there aren’t legal grounds to deny a payment service, then it must be processed.”