Two weeks ago, MasterCard felt the wrath of Anonymous Operation Payback-style DDoS attacks after refusing to process payments that were intended to fund WikiLeaks, the website which began leaking confidential US diplomatic cables last month. Now, the company is preparing to head down another controversial path by pledging to deny transactions which support websites that host pirated movies, music, games, or other copyrighted content.
MasterCard lobbyists have also been in talks with entertainment industry trade groups, including the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), and have made it clear that the company will support the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA), sources close to the talks have said.
“MasterCard in particular deserves credit for its proactive approach to addressing rogue Web sites that dupe consumers,” RIAA executive vice president of government and industry relations Mitch Glazer said in a statement to CNET when asked about the alliance. “They have reached out to us and others in the entertainment community to forge what we think will be a productive and effective partnership.”
This move by MasterCard is just another in a recent long line of corporations and organizations that are taking it upon themselves to define the legality of situations rather than leaving it to the courts. One problem is that the US federal government is allowing the lobbyists for these organizations to dictate right and wrong. The RIAA and MPAA were the big influence behind the government’s seizure of several domains during the last week of November. The domains are still under government control, though the “evidence” of wrongdoing listed in the case’s affidavit is weak. Now, with a huge financial corporation like MasterCard on board, these groups will have even more leverage to get their way.