|by Jason Steele|
This is not a political blog. I write here about credit cards and travel. Today however, politics have intersected with the credit card industry in an interesting way. It turns out that both Visa and Mastercard have suspended payments to the controversial web site Wikileaks. Apparently, Wikileaks had used these networks to accept donations like many organizations do.
If you support Wikileaks actions, you are probably upset, and if you opposed what Wikileaks has done, then you are might be pleased with what Visa and Mastercard has done. This is certainly not the forum to debate Wikileaks, and I would ask my readers to take a step back and view this development in a wider context; Do we want credit card processors to choose companies based on their political positions?
Think about this for a second. The Techdirt blog has pointed out that Visa and Mastercard are accepted by no less than the KKK, yet political pressure seems to have been applied in such a way that Wikileaks is not acceptable all of the sudden. It would be easy to say that an organization as vile as the KKK should not be a customer of any respectable business such as Visa and Mastercard, but where does this end. Certainly large numbers of people consider both pro-life and pro-choice organizations to be similarly unacceptable. What about organizations on either side of the middle east conflict? Should Visa and Mastercard do business with with countries that are dictatorships or those that are ruled by totalitarian regimes that abuse human rights?
Clearly there are some larger philosophical issues here that go to the heart of business ethics and the role of government in imposing censorship on organizations it does not like. According to Techdirt, Mastercard cited illegal activity as the reason for cutting off Wikileaks, despite the fact that no one has yet been convicted of a crime. Certainly we would not like our credit card processors to be our judge and jury. At the same time, without passing judgment on Wikileaks or its founder, we would not expect to continue to deal with any openly criminal element under the excuse that all legal proceedings have not yet been concluded.
Perhaps you think it is the moral right of Visa or Mastercard to deny service to a business it disagrees with. In that case how would you feel if a credit card company refused to accept donations on behalf of your favorite political party?
There are no easy answers here, but you still have to question how it is the KKK is fine by Visa and Mastercard, while Wikileaks remains a pariah.