Archive for December, 2010

Donating to WikiLeaks

Friday, December 31st, 2010

For an organization with its technical capabilities, you’d think WikiLeaks would have no trouble maintaining payment channels for contributors to use, notwithstanding the boycotts from PayPal, MasterCard, Visa, Bank of America, etc. But, after I awoke today thinking it’s time to make a donation to WikiLeaks, I found opportunities only with difficulty. Ideally, one could make a tax-deductible contribution to a charitable wing of WikiLeaks by a simple charge-account charge or bank transfer at an easy-to-find website. No such luck.

The web is full of hand-wringing over the conspiracy to dry up WikiLeaks’ sources of funds, but nearly devoid of creative work to defeat and circumvent that conspiracy. Puzzling.

Reporters Sans Frontières hosts a WikiLeaks mirror and of course solicits contributions for its own work, but the only way to contribute to it on the web is with PayPal, one of the conspirators against WikiLeaks. What’s wrong with that picture? I didn’t use that method, because years ago PayPal permanently banned payments from my Visa account. It’s an honor to be joined by WikiLeaks as a PayBal bannee.

WikiLeaks’ own website offers only cumbersome methods for donations, especially from the USA.

I finally found a qualifiedly easy (though not purportedly tax-deductible) donation method: XIPWIRE. Press accounts seem persuasive that this is a legitimate service that really sends money where you want it to go and, for now, doesn’t charge anything. So I used it today to make a contribution to WikiLeaks.

But using XIPWIRE is not truly easy, and here’s why. First, to use it at all you need to certify that you have read and accepted its non-negotiable “Terms of Use”. This is an 8,471-word document, including such sentences as “TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMISSIBLE UNDER APPLICABLE LAW, XIPWIRE AND ITS THIRD-PARTY PARTNERS, LICENSORS, LICENSEES, AND SUPPLIERS DISCLAIM ALL WARRANTIES, STATUTORY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, AND NON-INFRINGEMENT OF PROPRIETARY RIGHTS.” Add, say, 15 minutes to the time it would otherwise take if you decide to be honest and really read this before asserting that you have read it. Second, once you complete your payment you aren’t really finished. If you want to make your payment public on the XIPWIRE site (and, of course, doing that is a way to say “Come arrest me, too”, so it’s more significant than publicizing any ordinary contribution), you need to click a button that makes WikiLeaks your “friend”. But, when you try that, you get a warning saying that you need to activate your account first, using an email message that XIPWIRE has sent you. Despite the reported hundreds of WikiLeaks contributors through XIPWIRE, its site claims that WikiLeaks has only 41 friends. Some of this could be fear, and some could be that becoming a friend is a bit complex.

It’s still possible, then, to donate to WikiLeaks, but doing so takes some work.