DataCell files complaint on payment shutdown

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DataCell files complaint on payment shutdown

Targets Visa and Mastercard Europe over WikiLeaks saga.

Icelandic host DataCell, whose WikiLeaks payment gateway was shut by Visa and MasterCard, has taken its antitrust complaint to the European Commission. 

WikiLeaks and the company flagged earlier this month that they would file a complaint and sue Mastercard Europe and Visa Europe for refusing to do business with the web host.

DataCell had attempted to take international credit card payments on behalf of WikiLeaks’ and Julian Assange’s media company, Sunshine Press, but the gateway was shut down after Visa ordered card merchants to terminate DataCell's service. 

The complaint [pdf] alleged that blocking a payment gateway because it facilitated payments to a third party breached the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, (TFEU) and the European Economic Agreement (EEA). 

Last October Visa Europe ordered Danish company Teller to terminate DataCell’s services and investigate whether there had been a breach of its terms, with the explanation it wanted to protect its brand by severing any association with WikiLeaks, according the complaint. 

The investigation found that DataCell had breached Visa’s rules by facilitating payments to Sunshine Press. 

The complaint argued that DataCell's arrangement with Sunshine Press “constitutes an altogether normal business practice”, and that if DataCell were required to gain special permission from Visa and MasterCard to offer its gateway to others it would be a breach of European law.

"A refusal by Visa and MasterCard to allow DataCell to hold a merchant account for the purposes of servicing parties which do not have their own merchant account by reference to the need for some special certification from the respective payment card schemes, cannot be deemed do constitute an objective justification," it said.

It also argued that brand protection was not a reasonable justification for terminating services. 

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