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WIKILEAKS CONTROVERSY
WikiLeaks funded via Pirate Bay-linked firm
The Pirate Bay's Peter Sunde (left) and other Flattr staff

WikiLeaks funded via Pirate Bay-linked firm

Published: 09 Dec 2010 11:51 GMT+01:00
Updated: 09 Dec 2010 11:51 GMT+01:00

Credit card operators MasterCard and Visa and rival online payment system PayPal have shut down donations to WikiLeaks in the last week on the grounds that the site engages in illegal activities.

"As long as there is no sign that they are doing anything illegal, we will continue," Flattr spokesman Niklas Silfverström told The Local on Thursday.

According to WikiLeaks, the site also accepts donations via transfers through an Icelandic bank, as well as a German foundation. But after Swiss/Icelandic internet company DataCell suspended an online donation system linked to Visa and MasterCard, Flattr is now the only way to make online donations to WikiLeaks.

Unlike PayPal, Flattr, which is based in Limhamn in Malmö in southern Sweden, charges a minimal €2 monthly fee, with which users can donate as little as €0.01 (9 öre, $0.01) - or less - to websites they want to support.

Sunde described the site as "not actually micropayments, it's nanopayments" in an FT.com Tech Blog article in July.

"The idea had already been initiated in 2007, but the first release was in 2010 due to typical geeky laziness," the company wrote on its website.

The site, named both for flattering someone and a flat-rate payment model, believes it is attractive to users who would otherwise hesitate to donate amounts under €10 since users can donate as little as €0.01 - or less.

The site now has 50,000 user accounts compared with 20,000 members prior to its open beta launch in August.

Traffic to the site spiked following the release of WikiLeaks' Iraq documents in August, but Silfverström said it remains unclear whether the site has received more traffic after MasterCard, Visa and PayPal banned donations to WikiLeaks.

Users can deposit funds into a Flattr account through Visa, MasterCard or Nordea through MoneyBookers or PayPal, both of which charge fees.

When asked whether he thought it was ironic that Flattr is funded through the credit card companies, Silfverström said, "We are trying to find alternative means to do transactions and payouts, but we depend on the bigger organisations."

"The difference is we distribute the money to WikiLeaks, but there is always the risk that we will be shut down too," he added.

Last week, Flattr won a grant worth more than 320,000 kronor from Swedish innovation agency Vinnova to expedite the site's international expansion. Silfverström said the funds will be used to develop newer services with Flattr and look at ways to expand.

Regarding Sunde's activity on Flattr, Silfverström said, "He is involved on occasion, but he has other things on his mind right now."

Sunde's jail term for his involvement with The Pirate Bay was reduced to eight months at the end of last month.

Vivian Tse (vivian.tse@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

16:22 December 9, 2010 by Great Scott
Does this now mean that the names of all the Pirate bay users will be leaked.
20:42 December 9, 2010 by digitalamish
"Does this now mean that the names of all the Pirate bay users will be leaked."

Sure, as long as the users are government employees and used the Pirate Bay at the taxpayers' expense...
22:38 December 9, 2010 by krattan
The ingress of this article isn't true. There is still several ways to donate:

http://www.wikileaks.ch/support.html
13:00 December 10, 2010 by Adam Neira
"Assange Calls For Obama's Resignation If Confirmed President Approved UN Spy Ring"

This is like a foot soldier calling for Ulysses S. Grant to resign during the Appomattox campaign of 1865. President Obama is keeping a steady hand on the tiller of world affairs. Julian Assange is acting like an anarchist gossip merchant.

I repeat...

Some things must remain private and confidential. In any organisation whether it be a corporation, government, defence force or charity there is a hierarchy of awareness and responsibility. Certain people are invested with executive decision making. Obviously these people should be employed on merit. Pure anarchic openness of all information sources leads to mass confusion, as people are unable to prioritise and process the data. A happy child trusts his parents to make good decisions on his/her behalf. That is why we need command and control structures in place around the world. When people feel that their confidences can be betrayed at the click of a mouse they are loathe risking authentic connections with others. We actually need more respect for intellectual property and healthy boundaries everywhere right now, not less.

P.S. What does it say about Mr.Assange's respect for healthy boundaries and the concept of sovereignty that he so recently had casual, unprotected sex ?
06:13 December 11, 2010 by Tassa
krattan is right.

In addition, DataCell clearly said that they will do their best to support WikiLeaks.

http://www.datacell.com/news.php
04:01 December 12, 2010 by Icarusty
"P.S. What does it say about Mr.Assange's respect for healthy boundaries and the concept of sovereignty that he so recently had casual, unprotected sex ?"

Absolutely nothing. Unless you're a hypocritical American who believes in free speech as long as that freedom helps, not harms, your country.
17:05 December 13, 2010 by creamy
@ Adam .. scary casual bug infested sex. Lots of people are doing it because they still can without being indited and turned into a criminal. It is the way the world is. Enjoy it.
19:20 December 28, 2010 by buckrogersday
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
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