Sunday, December 19, 2010
Bank of America just fired the preemptive escalation shot in its duel with Wikileaks. Late on Friday, America’s biggest mortgage lender, and the firm that is now getting sued left and right for various mortgage transgressions, announced it is joining MasterCard, Paypal and Visa in ceasing transactions for Wikileaks. While this decision will certainly not improve Operation Anonymous’ empathy toward the North Carolina bank, it may just precipitate overt retaliation by Assange, who is now rumored to be in possession of data that could provie harmful to BAC. Which is why this sudden escalation out of left field by the bank strikes as surprisingly odd: BofA’s upside is very limited while its downside could be 100% – even if Wikileaks is bluffing, why provoke them. And as expected, Wikileaks has already retaliated: in two sequential tweets it advised its 568,117 (and very rapidly growing) subscribers to pull their money out of Bank of America, and also to close all their accounts with the firm, urging them to put their money “somewhere safer.” What is curious is to see whether this sudden escalation, in what has now become synonymous with a quest for preserving the first amendment for a substantial deal of people (and freedom of speech globally), will have a far broader impact than the comparable “Pull Your Money” out of the Big Banks venture that was attempted by Huffington Post over a year ago, with unsatisfactory results. If people suddenly personify Bank of America with a First Amendment threat, arguably the one freedom most cherished in America, which is precisely what Assange is trying to do, all bets for the Countrywide acquirer may soon be off.
Below is Bank of America’s statement released on Friday night:
“Bank of America joins in the actions previously announced by MasterCard, PayPal, Visa Europe and others and will not process transactions of any type that we have reason to believe are intended for WikiLeaks,” the bank said in a statement.
“This decision is based upon our reasonable belief that WikiLeaks may be engaged in activities that are, among other things, inconsistent with our internal policies for processing payments.”
Concurrently the bank was declined to comment whether it would be Wikileaks’ next target.
This press release by Bank of America provoked the following two tweets out of @wikileas’ twitter account:
Obviously it is the conditional “safer” keyword that will get everyone’s attention. Especially since it is now known that Wikileaks will release it bank data trove as soon as January.
In retaliation to BofA’s provocation, it appears that Assange just fired the preliminary shot in the massive run on Bank of America… and possible soon other US banks?
This article was posted: Sunday, December 19, 2010 at 8:16 am