Julian Assange may have turned into a self-righteous parody of himself extremely quickly, but he is right about one thing: Wikileaks is an important service that should be allowed to operate. It’s important that whistleblowers have a place to offload proof of wrong-doing anonymously online where that data will be seen and, just as importantly, acted upon.
The problem has been that the site has been effectively cut off from funding because private corporations like Bank of America have thrown up a financial blockade. It’s worth noting that they weren’t asked to do this by any government — they just decided they didn’t want any whistles blown on them and privately agreed to shut the site down.
It’s troubling for any number of reasons, not least of which is that there’s zero government oversight and there’s absolutely no public accountability. Oh, and also a bunch of corporations decided “I don’t like you, so you’re going away.” That’s a little troubling.
Unfortunately for the banks in question, it’s also illegal.
If Valitor does not comply within 14 days, it faces daily fines of 800,000 Icelandic krónur (about $6,200), but the company also told Bloomberg that it would appeal the ruling. Visa has not made any public statements on the ruling so far.
Valitor plans to appeal, but realistically speaking, this is the first step in what will likely become a landmark case in international and Internet law.
Essentially, we all need this case to end with a ruling that private corporations can’t dictate who gets money and who doesn’t just because they’re butthurt. Otherwise, we’re in a lot more trouble than just corporations and governments having slightly less accountability.
image courtesy DonkeyHotey on Flickr