Icelandic Web Host Can’t Sue Over WikiLeaks Cash

     RICHMOND, Va. (CN) – An overseas host for the WikiLeaks website cannot pursue antitrust allegations against MasterCard and Visa for disallowing cardholder donations to the controversial media outlet, a federal judge ruled.
     DataCell is an Icelandic corporation that provides server hosting and technical support to a number of companies, including Sunshine Press Productions, a media organization that operates the controversial WikiLeaks website.
     In a complaint filed in the Alexandria, Va. Federal Court, it claims that MasterCard and Visa demanded that their European partners, Teller and Valitor, stop processing donations to Sunshine Press after receiving complaints from former U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman and Congressman Peter King in the wake of WikiLeaks’ publication of classified diplomatic cables in 2010.
     DataCell filed suit against MasterCard and Visa in December, 2014, claiming that the companies’ compliance “injured the media market by suppressing the market place of ideas.”
     Additionally, DataCell claimed it was entitled to a five percent cut of donations through an at-will contract with Teller, and requested $5 million in damages.
     But in a July 30 ruling, U.S. District just Gerald Bruce Lee held that DataCell simply doesn’t have standing to pursue either claim.
     “If any entity had standing, it might have been Sunshine Press, not the company that provided Sunshine Press’ server hosting and technical support,” Judge Lee wrote .
     He also noted that DataCell’s loss of “theoretical” donation profits was at the behest of King, a federal official whose standing provides immunity from antitrust allegations.
     “If the products in DataCell’s market are ideas, then the antitrust laws cannot help DataCell,”” he wrote. Congress created antitrust laws to protect free market competition, not to protect the free exchange of ideas.”
     “If the products in DataCell’s market are classified State Department documents, then the antitrust laws are an even poorer fit,” he continued. “Not wanting their companies associated with terrorism seems a far more likely explanation for defendants’ conduct than a conspiracy to restrain trade.”
     DataCell is represented by Jesse Binnall, Louise Gitcheva and Philip Harvey of Harvey & Binnall in Alexandria, Va., none of whom immediately responded to Courthouse News’ request for comment.

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