metaprogramming and politics

Decentralize. Take the red pill.

Wikileaks or: Welcome to the brave new “Terms of Use” era

with 8 comments

Paypal “restricts” the bank account of the german Wau Holland foundation which managed parts of Wikileaks transactions. Citing from their statement :

PayPal has permanently restricted the account used by WikiLeaks due to
a violation of the PayPal Acceptable Use Policy, which states that
our payment service cannot be used for any activities that
encourage, promote, facilitate or instruct others to engage in
illegal activity. We’ve notified the account holder of this action.

As with my yesterday notes a number of questions arise. What exactly is
illegal about wikileaks behaviour in the US? Was money laundering or
online fraud involved? Was wikileaks given a warning and asked to
provide clarifying statements regarding the usage of _their_ money? Do
they apply the same moral standards to all their customers and accounts?
For example, are they also closing all accounts related to the
Washington Times or related to Sarah Palin publically calling for
of a citizen of Australia?

If we are learning anything from the Wikileaks case it is the willfullness
of young IT companies in the US to concur with public opinion or direct
government pressure. Up until now i presumed the likes of Amazon or Paypal
also incorporated some ethics. And this would mandate IMO to keep
distance to government actions and to resist government pressure especially
if it’s about something like wikileaks. It seems like the US goverment
used its advanced notice of the pending publication wisely: rather than filtering critical
messages they organised a huge campaign in the US resulting in Amazon,
PayPal and everydns and probably others to implement government policies
and quickly. No need to have special laws or evil government actions – just reference the Terms of Use and be done.

Written by holger krekel

December 4, 2010 at 3:11 pm

Posted in politics

Tagged with

8 Responses

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  1. What’s illegal? Wikileaks has been releasing US government documents marked “classified” and “secret”. That’s against US law, for obvious reasons. See and—-000-.html .

    As for Paypal and Amazon, I’m sure the government did apply some pressure, but “violation of TOS” is a pretty legitimate argument in this case. They’re US companies, dealing with an organization that has broken US laws.

    Mark Erikson

    December 4, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    • Legality: there are plenty of people arguing differently about the legality of publishing the information, see for example:

      And I am sure that Amazon and PayPal have arguments cross-referenced to their terms of use. The thing is that we are left with a private company pulling the plug on basic infrastructure and there is no court that gets asked or decides. They rather appear to act on behalf of political interests.

      I wonder: if the leak were about cables from Russia, Iran or China and Amazon/Paypal would be acting against wikileaks like they do now, would you be in support of it? If the cables were showing how the US government conspired to start the Iraq war, witholding truth and counter-evidence, would you think wikileaks does wrong?

      holger krekel

      December 4, 2010 at 6:01 pm

  2. The statute referenced by Mark Erikson (TITLE 18 PART I CHAPTER 37 § 798) does not apply. Even a quick read shows that none of the four subparagraphs of paragraph (a) are involved here as the information was not obtained from “communication intelligence” nor was related to it.

    Besides, it should be patently obvious that if it was illegal, the New York Times among other entities would right now be looking for a lot of new employees, as many of their current ones would be in jail awaiting trial.

    Peter Hansen

    December 4, 2010 at 7:39 pm

  3. Mark Erikson
    The government was unable to legally prevent the publication of the Pentagon Papers, also stolen documents. Again, what laws were broken by Wikileaks?


    December 4, 2010 at 7:50 pm

  4. The latest Wiki-“leak” is eroding the relative freedom of the Internet. The problem with the leak is that it so far has not contained any substantial scandal big enough to cause public outrage and this gives a lot more headroom for governments to crack down. Also it’s not just USA that finds the leak compromising but also it’s fiercest enemies there’s no powerful friends to defend it.


    December 4, 2010 at 11:19 pm

    • If a cable evoked some big scandal and subsequent problems in diplomatic relations – couldn’t it also be counted against wikileaks?

      It’s probably true that the presidents and chancellors of our planet commonly dislike the leak because it endangers their chances to make background deals. However, I am not convinced that background deals are the best way to implement politics.

      holger krekel

      December 5, 2010 at 5:36 pm

  5. Am writing a thesis on Public Trust in WikiLeaks, the Media and the Government and need to know what your opinions are. The online survey is multiple choice and will take approximately 10 minutes to complete. Please follow the link: Would be great if you would encourage others to do the survey also.


    April 19, 2011 at 2:40 am

  6. The new Zune browser is surprisingly good, but not as good as the iPod’s. It works well, but isn’t as fast as Safari, and has a clunkier interface. If you occasionally plan on using the web browser that’s not an issue, but if you’re planning to browse the web alot from your PMP then the iPod’s larger screen and better browser may be important.


    January 5, 2012 at 7:27 am

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