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Paypal Freezes Wikileaks's Accounts (Scroll down to donate) (wikileaks.org)
53 points by oomkiller 2618 days ago | hide | past | web | 31 comments | favorite

I posted the original "Wikileaks needs engineers"[1] story to HN, and emailed them to offer help. I never heard back, and from the thread other people had the same experience.

I still support their mission, but they seem pretty disorganized, an impression this story reinforces.

[1] http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1023663

I did the same, and got the same [non]response.

PayPal really needs to establish some sort of transparent, independent, review board for these things.

That would make them more bank-like, with more regulatory oversight. They don't want that, and really neither do you. The Paypal chimera doesn't need any more DNA, it's bad enough as it is.

The US should force its banks to implement better EFT with consumer-initiated direct-deposit and direct-debit, marginalizing the whole Credit Card / PayPal ecosystem.

They are regulated by the CSSF.

Or Wikileaks really needs to find a new electronic payment service.

What's the point of finding a new system if no one else uses it?

Believe me, I've "been there, done that." We've tried numerous PayPal alternatives at our non-profit, including MoneyBookers, Google Checkout, etc. The one that brings in the donations is PayPal simply because it makes it the easiest to part with your money. It doesn't feel like your giving real money away, just points!

On a related note, why does it cost $600k / year to run this service?

Hiring lawyers is probably a large cost for them, not to mention that mediawiki as it is isn't exactly the most server-efficient software in the world.

"If staff are paid."

I wonder how they would protect against "rogue" staff. I imagine many governments and international corporations would love to get their "people" on the staff. They would quietly ignore stories and report the whistle blowers.

Staff don't know who the sources are, submitted documents are reviewed by multiple people.

"[Costs] amount to just under $200,000 PA."

What is PA short for?

per annum (i.e. per year)

That's if they pay staff salaries. 400K is really only 3.5 FTE's if you assume a baseline of 50K/yr (and that's being very optimistic about some costs).

400K is really only 3.5 FTE's if you assume a baseline of 50K/yr

Can you elaborate the math you're using here?

Salary * pension * social security * payroll taxes + office space + heating + lighting

Normally for 'profesional' staff costs are 150-250% the salary


Having to sign the checks and meet payroll every month !!!!!

In the US in my experience a full-time employee costs around 150% of their stated salary with some exceptions. It varies depending on local regulations and startups can often finesse these costs by doing without office space, health insurance and tax withholding, but payroll overhead will be a part of your spend.

Duh? This happens every single goddamn time anyone takes a bunch of donations via intermediaries like Paypal and Google Checkout, especially internationally, and extra-especially when you don't use their special no-markup program for registered nonprofits.

It looks exactly like you've cashing out stolen consumer accounts. They have every incentive to freeze the account indefinitely, and they never let anyone get away with it for more than a couple thousand dollars.

So what, we're just supposed to accept that if we use Paypal or Google Checkout we can't have sales, promotions, or donation drives? That we must sell a consistent number of units per day?

Any business relationship can be voided with a proportional amount of effort as it took to enter it.

If you don't want to be cut off so easily, you'll need to use a payment medium that's more difficult to acquire access to and involves fewer middlemen. There are only a handful of levels:

  eCash Account (PayPal, Google Checkout, Amazon Payments)
  Payment Gateway + Merchant Account (Authorize.net + Bank)
  Be a big fish that can negotiate + interface directly with Visa, etc.
  Be Visa / Mastercard (since their IPOs), PayPal, AmEx, etc.
  Be a bank

With the revenue of WikiLeaks I would think they have a personal account manager — I have one and he has told me that if my account is flagged for “being frozen” it has to pass through his desk first (so effectively it shouldn’t happen).

Not saying that the PayPal behavior is acceptable, just wondering why WikiLeaks doesn’t appear to have any PayPal contact.

They are staying anonymous by passing everything through an intermediary overseas nonprofit.

Keeping It Real Shady.

So couldn't somebody at Paypal have a quick look at the reports from the auto-cancel? Especially for a large long standing customer like Wikileaks?

They did this years ago after the Asian tsunami - they suspended the Red Cross's account because of a suspicous number of new donations!

Call me a conspiracy theorist if you like, but one of the most efficient ways to "behead the beast" (so to speak) when an organization is doing uncool things, is to cut off their ability to make money.

Wikileaks is set up to expose stuff that makes other organizations uncomfortable. Make Wikileaks disappear and those organizations feel comfortable again.

It's not hard to file a bunch of complaints with PayPal and have someone's account suspended.

That's why there are websites like http://www.screw-paypal.com

They have been exposing PayPal for the theieves that they really are for over two years now. I say SCREW PAYPAL. Regulate them as the bank that they really are and be done with them. More oversight!

With all the stories out there about similar fiascos, why wouldn't they withdraw funds on a daily basis?

This actually isn't that hard to do if they just request it.

I use Paypal for selling my software product and had my account manager setup "auto sweep" where the funds are automatically withdrawn each night.

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