While major online financing services such as PayPal, MasterCard, and Visa have shut down their dealings with the embattled WikiLeaks, one microfinancing startup is still hanging on. Flattr, a micropayment startup created by Peter Sunde, co-founder of the infamous BitTorrent sharing site The Pirate Bay, still accepts donations on behalf of the document-leaking non-profit.
WikiLeaks, which has come under intense international pressure after publishing leaked U.S. diplomatic cables, has seen its most of its major funding sources dry up (the big ones are U.S.-based). PayPal, owned by online auction giant eBay, restricted WikiLeaks’ account on Saturday, saying the organization violated its policy on facilitating illegal activity. MasterCard began denying donations to WikiLeaks on Monday, followed by Visa a day later.
PostFinance, the financial arm of the Swiss postal system also shut down a bank account owned by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who was using it to collect donations. Assange was arrested in London on unrelated criminal allegations Tuesday.
Sunde has been a public advocate for Assange and WikiLeaks. He has also proposed a peer-to-peer DNS system that would prevent domain name registrations from being revoked, as was done with the WikiLeaks.org domain.
His company Flattr, based in Sweden, allows users to vote on content they like, much like Digg or CondÃ© Nast’s Reddit, except each vote is actually a micro amount of cash. Users pay a monthly donation to Flattr (minimum â‚¬2). At the end of the month, that fee is split between all the content providers that user has Flattr’d.
Sunde started Flattr in March along with Linus Olsson. WikiLeaks, which has experienced funding problems in 2009, was among its first financing partners, although any company can now sign up to accept Flattr payments. At the time, he told TechCrunch that Flattr was “prepared for the controversy.”