People shouldn’t fear their government; government should fear its people. Publishers and journalists will not be intimidated nor silenced. Now entering day 626 of the financial blockade against WikiLeaks, Julian Assange sits in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London awaiting safe passage.
Following a massive release of secret U.S. diplomatic cables in November 2010, donations to WikiLeaks were blocked by Bank of America, VISA, MasterCard, PayPal and Western Union on December 7th, 2010. Although private companies certainly have a right to select which transactions to process or not, the political environment produced less than a fair and objective decision. It was coordinated pressure exerted in a politicized climate by the U.S. government and it won’t be the last time that we see this type of pressure.
Fortunately, there is way around this and other financial blockades with a global payment method immune to political pressure and monetary censorship.
On its public bitcoin address, Wikileaks has taken in over $32,000 equivalent in more than 1,100 separate bitcoin donations throughout the blockade (1BTC = $10.00). But these amounts may be significantly higher, because it does not even include the individually-generated bitcoin addresses that WikiLeaks provides for donors upon request.
Also announced last month, WikiLeaks appears to have found another way around the VISA and Mastercard blockade by using the French national credit card system, Carte Bleue, to process these payments (at least temporarily).
According to WikiLeaks, VISA and MasterCard are contractually barred from directly cutting off merchants through the Carte Bleue system and the French non-profit FDNN (Fund for the Defense of Net Neutrality- Fonds de Défense de la Net Neutralité) has set up a Carte Bleue fund for WikiLeaks.
Time Magazine declares that WikiLeaks “could be as important a journalistic tool as the Freedom of Information Act.”
It used to be that people had secrets and the government was transparent; now it’s the people that lack privacy and the government has secrets. Freedom of payments is an extension of financial privacy and digital cash-like transactions without financial intermediaries become a critical piece of that foundation. Money was never intended to act as a form of identity tracking or payments restriction and this is why the option for anonymous and untraceable transactions is so vital as society moves to a world of digital currency.
“It is the privatization of censorship, because this is being done because of extreme pressure by the U.S. Government,” says Kristinn Hrafnsson, spokesman for WikiLeaks. “It’s extremely important to fight back and stop this process right here and now so that we won’t see in the future, ….where we have the financial giants deciding who lives and who dies in this field.”
To those that don’t support freedom of payments, consider this financial blockade invoked in the name of political correctness before you dismiss the inherent value of a nonpolitical unit of account and of a decentralized medium of exchange. It should be offensive to most free-minded people that you are not the final arbiter of how and where you spend your money. Bitcoin restores the balance.[youtube height=”400″ width=”550″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jzMN2c24Y1s[/youtube]