WikiLeaks continues to fund itself via tech startup Flattr

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WikiLeaks, which publishes anonymous leaks of secret material (most recently 250,000 previously secret US embassy cables) still has a trick up its sleeve. In the last few days its sources of funding have been gradually cut off. MasterCard, PayPal and now Visa have all suspended payments to the organsation and founder Julian Assange has been remanded in custody in London without bail (so far).

However there remains one source of funding so far untouched, and that is a small startup, Flattr, created by Peter Sunde, co-founder of torrent site Pirate Bay, who has been reminding Twitter users today via his personal Twitter account that it’s still possible to “help” Wikileaks.

Now, any site at all can use or incorporate Flattr – a sort of Digg or Facebook ‘Like’, but with money attached. But it is significant that on this day, when other sources are slowly shut off, a tech startup remains a revenue source for Wikileaks. Although there is no Flattr button on the infamous “Cablegate” pages. Nor is Flattr listed as a supporting partner and there is “no official association whatever”, according to Flattr, with Wikileaks.

Here’s how Flattr works:

Users can “Flattr” content by setting up a Flattr account which sets a a monthly fee — a minimum €2 — that they are willing to contribute for any kind of online content. When the user finds something they like that has a Flattr button, they can click the button to “reward” the content provider. At the end of the month, the user’s monthly fee is split equally among the holders of the content that they “flattered”. Although Flattr is currently in beta and an invite is required to set up an account it is already in use by two major German newspapers, completely unprompted: and

WikiLeaks has been using Flattr since August, and received well over 3,000 Flattr donations for its Afghanistan War Diary – but the amounts of cash involved remain unknown.

Flattr does not need Paypal to distribute payments – so long as it can verify an account holder’s identity to comply with anti-money laundering and KYC (“know your customer”) requirements, funds can be transferred via bank transfer or cheque. However, Flattr, which also works with newspapers many of them in Germany, is not confirming if it is doing this for WikiLeaks as this is considered client confidentiality.

Wikileaks could well have hit on an unstoppable model via Flattr, which also won the recent Europas award for best new startup in Europe, 2010.

  • Andrew Brackin

    I wonder how long till you see WikiLeaks Collection pots in London.

    • bra323

      It is easy solution, shut down Flattr too. It is time for goverment to shut down anything they don’t agree with

      • Jay

        Somebody needs to shut Flattr down now. They are supporting illegality.

      • D

        Someone needs to put a “report” button on techcrunch comments so we can report stupid arrogant comments like the one above.

  • Why Tech Startup Flattr May Be The Key to WikiLeaks’ Future Funding | JetLib News

    […] Read the rest of this entry » […]

  • VIBrunazo

    I’ve been using it for about a month and it’s great. All props to them!

    I would Flattr this post. But it’s a shame TC still doesn’t use it. Come one, put a Flattr button on your site already. You guys deserve a tip ;)

  • Neden Tech Başlangıç Flattr WikiLeaks ‘Gelecek Finansman için Anahtar Olabilir

    […] Read the rest of this entry » […]

  • Lucian Armasu

    Awesome! This will also help Flattr take off, which means good news for blogs who want new ways to monetize their sites. Maybe you should start using it, too, Techcrunch!

    If only they took it off private beta…

  • ismail

    This is great!

  • POng Peets

    Oh wow, I think that is totally awesome!

  • Will

    and what happens when payment processors refuse to keep processing flattr payments? Surely you have to fund your account somehow and I’m sure the US government will soon find someway to criminalize wikileaks and then flattr will be seen as funding an illegal operation and forced into choosing between cutting off funding to wikileaks or getting shut down.

  • WikiLeaks continues to fund itself via tech startup Flattr | The Daily Conservative

    […] the article here: WikiLeaks continues to fund itself via tech startup Flattr Share and […]

  • Drew

    Doesn’t flattr allow users to fund their flattr account through paypal? Can’t paypal terminate flattr also? just asking..

    • Johan Krüger-Haglert

      They said you could do bank transfers and checks.

  • Vishal Burns

    As we have already seen that all the big corporates like Amazon, Paypal, Mastercard, OVH and recently even Visa was *FORCED* to terminate their services to WikiLeaks. The reason they provide is breach of the TOS. But even an 8-year old wont find it difficult to determine the main reason behind all these big companies withdrawing support is the US and other European government forcing these companies to withdraw their services.

    Now the big question is – Even if Flattr actually provides services to WikiLeaks, how are they going to overcome the long hands of the lawmakers who are desperate to shut down WikiLeaks. Also need to consider that its just a startup and hasn’t that many attorneys/infrastructure as the other big companies which have already bowed down to the lawmakers.

    Only time will tell what survives.

    • Vish

      Shut up

    • Johan KrÃ��Ã�¼ger-Haglert

      In the end …

      Then can always try to stop cash.

      If you’re not allowed to cash it into the system? Metals? Still the same issue? Fuck getting them into the system?

  • Leif

    Correction: flattr is open to the public. Just sign up. :)

  • Small Startup Keeps Cash Flowing to WikiLeaks

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  • Danny

    According to the flattr faq, you can only get money out through paypal, so I’m not sure how this is supposed to work unless Sunde does something special for wikileaks :)

  • 4chan’s hackers come to the defense of WikiLeaks by attacking its enemies | Tech-Bubble

    […] on an application form. But even as it has lost access to revenue sources such as PayPal, the startup Flattr, created by Peter Sunde, co-founder of torrent site Pirate Bay, has been raising mon… for […]

  • bernard

    tried it, doesn’t work for us despite 15.000 uv’s per day, we collected 2 dollars or so in one month.

    • Kwyjibo

      It’s just not popular enough. I’m not sure if the monthly subscription helps either.

      I wish more sites would use it, or something similar though. I read top stories given away for free on The New Yorker, and there’s just no way to contribute aside from buying shit from their ads.

      I’d like to donate $1 for a specific piece, but there are no options. There’s not even a paypal link, probably because they reckon it makes them look too desperate.

    • Dave Fry

      I only have about 100 uniques daily, and I get more than that each month…

  • bernard

    may i add that they don’t seem to have enough users to use it now. actually we hesitated putting it up when we learned that the same day we added it wikileaks had it as well…

  • Jon

    The Swedish sponging and hacking criminals team up again.

    • Johan KrÃ���Ã��Ã�¼ger-Haglert

      Yeah, must feel bad that we have the elite..

  • Wikileaks-saken svekker troen på risikofri nettlagring | Digital

    […] Flattr, den nye nettjenesten til Pirate Bay-tiltalte Peter Sunde, er nå en av få nettkanaler som lar folk donere penger til Wikileaks. […]

  • Sholto

    Slightly off subject, but did anyone find ex-presidential candidate Mike Huckerbee’s comments that Assange should be kidnapped and then executed slightly worrying. On the plus side, even the republican voters recognised him for an absolute cretin, but his clear distaste for the US constitution is not the ideal characteristic for an American president. The editor of the NY Times would have to worried if every publisher is going to be shot.

  • noname
  • Alex
  • P C

    Given the mindless, hell bent wreckage that wiki and all it’s enablers are stoking, it is amusing to hear Flattr refusing to acknowledge their partner with wiki b/c of “confidentiality.”

    • Adam

      Actually, I’d say a private company (flattr) protecting it’s users information is in the interests of those users. On the other hand public entities – in this case central governments – withholding information from their ‘users’ – those who have elected them – are acting directly against the interests of those users.

      I’m not saying this is true in all cases. For example though, as a British citizen I’d actually quite like the government that is *supposed* to be accountable to its’ citizens to admit publicly that they fixed documents to cover America’s ass following the invasion of Iraq!

  • PayPal: Decision to Drop Wikileaks Was “Straightforward” | TECHNOLOGY NEWS

    […] payment companies than just PayPal, though Wikileaks has found a new avenue for funding – a small startup called Flattr, started by Peter Sunde, the co-founder of the torrent site Pirate Bay. In addition […]

  • Cathryne

    Is WikiLeaks supposed to withdraw the money from Flattr, when MoneyBookers, PayPal, VISA and MasterCard have cancelled servicing WikiLeaks? I assume there are no other methods for withdrawing funds from Flattr than there are for depositing it.

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